Home Composting is not a new technology and it has been practiced for many years around the
world, as a simple and low cost solution to manage household organic waste at source. In Sri
Lanka, different set-ups of household composting units can be found and it has been more
popularised in some areas. Compost offers several benefits such as enhanced soil fertility and soil
health-thereby increased agricultural productivity, improved soil biodiversity, reduced ecological
risks and a better environment.
Home composting is now being encouraged as a means of reducing the organic waste being
discarded and sent to the landfills. In Sri Lanka, organic fraction of Municipal Solid Waste (MSW)
contributes 70 - 90% of total waste stream in many municipalities. These organic substances are
bulky to handle and contributes for numerous liquid and gaseous emissions that deteriorate
dumpsite environments. A good home composting programmes can significantly reduce the
quantity of organic waste adding to the mainstream (>50%) and subsequent emissions upon final
disposal. Valuable products (compost) are produced while reducing the costs incurred for
collection, transportation and final disposal at dumpsite.
Community participation has been a vital component in most successful integrated solid waste
management (ISWM) programmes. Home composting encourages the community involvement on
waste management activities and it facilitates easy transferring of source separation concepts to
the people. Home based composting compared to the compost produced from mixed waste is of
high quality as the waste does not get contaminated with hazardous materials. The separated
inorganic materials need less effort for cleaning before recycling. Therefore, household
composting has been identified as an option to enhance the economic conditions of urban poor
people through home-gardening and selling of compost and/or recyclables.
There are various technical options available as household level composting systems that vary
from simple pit /heap methods to complex bin or rotating drum designs. Traditional composting
methods (pit, heap, Jeewakotu) have been common practices in many rural/ peri-urban areas with
different kinds of organic matters. Most urban dwellers prefer bin composting system due to its
convenience and as it has less impact an aestheticism with their very limited space.
The Composting Process
Composting is a natural biological process that carried out under controlled aerobic (requires
oxygen) or anaerobic conditions. Anaerobic composting is not common due to its slow degradation
rate and odorous intermediate products. Aerobic composting is widely used and in this process,
various microorganisms, including bacteria and fungi, break down organic matter into simpler
substances. The effectiveness of the composting process is dependent upon the environmental
conditions present within the composting system i.e. oxygen, temperature, moisture, material
disturbance, substrate conditions.
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