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Summary of the 2010 BioCycle Survey of Biosolids Composting in the U.S.

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The benefits of composting as a method for managing organic wastes are numerous. Since the 1970s, there has been extensive research and experience with composting biosolids and using compost to great benefit in agriculture, horticulture, silviculture, landscaping, site restoration, erosion control, and more. In 2010, BioCycle, assisted by North East Biosolids and Residuals Association, conducted a nationwide survey to determine the status of biosolids composting in the U. S. Such a survey had not been done since 1998. In 2010, 265 biosolids composting facilities were identified; in comparison, there were 90 in 1983. There were 321 in 1998, 47 of which were in development compared to just a handful in 2010. The mostly commonly used method of composting biosolids remains aerated static pile, followed by windrow and in-vessel. The survey data on volumes of biosolids processed at these facilities suggest that an estimated 7.8% of the biosolids generated in the U. S. are composted. There are biosolids composting operations in all but 6 of the 50 states, from Alaska to Florida; the greatest numbers are in New York (25) and Washington (24). There seems to be an increased number of regional facilities. Wood chips are the most common bulking agent. Odor management, which was a common concern reported in 1998, seems to be better addressed in 2010. Most operations sell their compost, with prices ranging from 6 to 30+ per cubic yard. Compost facility operators report strong demand for their products.
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Keywords: BioCycle; Biosolids; compost; sewage sludge; survey

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 January 2011

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