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How CompostManager can reduce odour issues

  • 17 October 2013

In the three years from 2009 to 2012, the Environment Agency said half of the complaints about composting facilities received by DEFRA were about odour.  These complaints can lead to composting operators having to close sites or receiving fines.  These odours can also have a negative effect on the lives of those living close by.

Compost pile

The offensive odours are caused by two distinct mechanisms:

1. Anaerobic conditions generally related to poor structure, waterlogging, or inadequate forced aeration.

2. Excessive temperatures generally related to excessive pile size or inadequate forced aeration.  Excessive temperatures lead to a complex range of large molecules being produced and released, some of which are extremely odorous.

By minimising anaerobic conditions and excessive temperatures, odour-generating conditions are minimised.

Odour release is far more likely during the turning of the compost process and is also an expensive process for the facility operator.  CompostManager’s 7 years of research, using detailed analysis of data collected from operational sites with over 330,000 sets of measurements, has shown that quality compost can be produced in 9-10 weeks with just 4 turns.  CompostManager measures all four parameters of temperature, moisture, oxygen and carbon dioxide concentration, providing full analysis and data of the compost.  Gas levels, temperature and moisture measured inside a batch of compost tells how well the batch is composting and if it is likely to produce odour.

The CompostManager software analyses the results, which can then be viewed very simply, either for the site as a whole or for each individual windrow.  Once analysed, the software will produce a simple instruction for the composter to follow, directing the user to either ‘turn’, ‘irrigate’ or ‘leave alone’, to ensure optimal conditions in the windrow.

Shorts logoThe impact of using CompostManager is evident with CompostManager client Shorts Recycling, an open-windrow site in Berkshire, within close proximity to the local village, processing about 10,000 tonnes per year of green waste.  They have been using CompostManager for over 3 years and before this typically turned batches 10 – 12 times over a typical 14-week cycle.

Based on the data collected by CompostManager, they made a number of minor but significant changes; increased shred size, reduced windrow height very slightly and reduced the turning frequency.

The effects of these changes were quantified using data collected by the instrument.  The data showed a significant increase in oxygen levels and turning costs were reduced.

Gavin Bartlett from Shorts RecyclingGavin Bartlett, Composting Managing at Shorts Recycling said,

“The year before we used CompostManager we had 60 odour complaints, the next year we had none!”

To find out more about the benefits of CompostManager for your composting facility call us now on 01797 253572.



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