Commercial Composting vs Home Composting

Commercial Composting vs Home Composting

Composting offers a natural solution for organic waste, turning it into valuable soil amendment packed with nutrients that nourish plants. This article delves into the two main composting methods: commercial composting and home composting


Both composting methods ultimately benefit the food industry through improved soil health and potentially a more sustainable food system. We'll explore the key differences and benefits of each, shedding light on how they both contribute to waste reduction and a healthier planet.


What is composting and why is it beneficial?

Composting is a biological process that decomposes organic matter into a dark, crumbly material called compost.  It’s nature's magic trick for transforming food scraps, yard waste, and other organic materials into a nutrient-rich soil enhancer. This process relies on hardworking microbes like bacteria and fungi to break down these materials, creating a dark, crumbly amendment packed with essential plant nutrients. Composting is vital role in waste management, reducing landfill use and improving soil structure, water retention, and nutrient content.


Different types of composting

There are two main ways to categorise composting methods: by the presence of oxygen and by the setting. Let's explore these different approaches to understand which might be best suited for your needs.

Aerobic composting

Aerobic composting is the most common method, relying on oxygen-loving microbes to break down organic waste. These microbes generate heat as they munch away, accelerating the decomposition process. This method is ideal for large-scale operations and produces a rich, nutrient-dense compost perfect for boosting soil health.

Anaerobic composting 

Unlike its aerobic counterpart, anaerobic composting thrives in the absence of oxygen. While slower than aerobic composting, it can still effectively break down organic waste. However, a byproduct of this process is often methane gas, so proper ventilation is crucial. While less common, anaerobic composting can be a good option for specific food industry waste streams.


This fascinating method introduces a whole new set of decomposers: worms! These little wigglers efficiently break down organic matter in a contained environment, making vermicomposting ideal for smaller spaces like homes or restaurants with limited outdoor space. The resulting "worm castings" are a fantastic addition to any garden.

What is commercial composting?

Commercial composting or industrial composting, tackles large volumes of organic waste from sources like municipalities, businesses, and institutions. This efficient method breaks down a diverse range of materials, including food scraps, yard waste, and even some acceptable bioplastics.

Commercial composting processes and techniques

Industrial composting processes use advanced technology and various techniques to ensure efficient decomposition of organic materials.

  • Windrow composting involves creating long piles of organic waste that are regularly turned to introduce oxygen, promoting faster decomposition.
  • Aerated static piles are layers of organic materials with a system to control airflow through the piles, enhancing microbial activity without the need for turning.
  • In-vessel composting uses enclosed systems that allow precise control over temperature, moisture, and aeration. This speeds up the composting process while minimising odours and space requirements.

Commercial composting benefits 

Commercial composting boasts several key benefits. First, it offers high capacity and can handle the waste needs of entire communities. It significantly diverts organic materials from landfills, reducing their environmental impact. 

Additionally, commercial composting tackles diverse material processing. It can break down challenging materials like meat scraps or bones, which are unsuitable for home composting systems. 

Finally, industrial composting facilities benefit from expert management. Professionals oversee the entire process, ensuring optimal decomposition and the production of nutrient-rich compost.


One of the challenges commercial composting faces is the significant investment in equipment and infrastructure required to set up a facility. This can be a barrier for some communities or businesses considering this solution.

Moreover, transporting waste to composting facilities can introduce logistical challenges and counteract some of the environmental benefits by generating transportation emissions.

What is home composting?

Home composting is a more accessible approach involving everyday organic waste from households—which means you can do it yourself! 


This practical and environmentally friendly method allows individuals like you to contribute directly to waste reduction.

Home composting processes and techniques


Typical home setups include compost bins, tumblers, or simple heaps in backyards. These smaller systems manage household waste like fruit and vegetable peels, eggshells, and yard debris.


  • Compost bins are enclosed containers that can be placed outdoors or indoors to decompose organic waste. They are suitable for households with little yard space.
  • Tumblers are barrel-like containers rotated to mix composting materials, speeding up the decomposition process by aerating the contents effectively.
  • Backyard heaps are simple piles of organic material in a garden or yard, where natural elements and manual turning help break down the material over time.


Indoor composting offers a solution for those with limited outdoor space. Vermicomposting is a popular option for apartments and kitchens, producing nutrient-rich castings for houseplants or small gardens.

Home composting benefits


Home composting shines for its environmental and personal sustainability benefits. 


Firstly, it directly reduces landfill use by diverting organic waste from households. This individual action contributes significantly to waste reduction and environmental conservation efforts. 


Secondly, the resulting compost is a treasure trove of nutrients. When used in gardens and around plants, it improves soil structure, fertility, and water retention, leading to healthier growth.  


Finally, home composting offers a fun and educational activity for families. It fosters a deeper understanding of sustainability and the environmental impacts of waste management, making it a rewarding and impactful practice.


But perhaps the most attractive aspects of home composting are its simplicity and affordability. Low cost and easy to start, home composting requires minimal investment and can be done in a variety of ways, making it accessible to everyone.



While home composting boasts numerous advantages, it's not without its challenges.

Compared to commercial facilities, home composting systems have a limited capacity and generally experience slower processing times. This means you'll need to be mindful of the amount of organic waste you add and be patient as it decomposes. 

Additionally, home composting requires ongoing maintenance and monitoring. Unlike commercially managed systems with constant oversight, you'll need to turn the compost pile regularly, ensure proper moisture levels, and monitor for signs of imbalance. 

Lastly, there's the potential for pest and odor issues. Improperly managed compost can attract unwanted visitors like fruit flies or gnats and generate unpleasant smells. However, you can minimise these risks by following best practices and choosing the right location for your composting setup.


What is the difference between commercial composting and home composting?


The main differences between commercial composting and home composting lie in scale, technology, and the types of organic materials they can process effectively.

Scale and capacity

  • Commercial composting facilities are designed to handle immense volumes of organic waste, often processing thousands of tonnes annually, and are suitable for municipal or industrial waste management needs. 
  • Home composting systems are much smaller in scale and are typically suited to managing only household organic waste, such as kitchen scraps and yard debris.

Materials composted

  • Thanks to their sophisticated systems and regulated environments that facilitate rapid decomposition, commercial composting operations are equipped to handle a broad range of organic materials, including meats, dairy products, and bioplastics. 
  • Home composting generally focuses on plant-based kitchen scraps and yard waste. The types of materials that can be composted at home are more limited due to slower processing times and the absence of the high temperatures needed to break down more complex materials safely.

Equipment and technology

  • The equipment and technology used in commercial composting are significantly more advanced than those typically used in home composting. Commercial facilities may use mechanised aeration systems, large-scale tumblers, and controlled in-vessel composters to efficiently manage and accelerate the composting process.
  • Home composting setups usually consist of basic bins, tumblers, or simple compost heaps, which rely more on manual maintenance and natural processes.

Time and labour

  • Mechanisation and large-scale operations optimise the time and labour involved in commercial composting, allowing for faster compost production. Commercial composting processes are usually completed within a few weeks to months. 
  • Home composting demands more personal effort and time. Due to the smaller scale and less controlled conditions, producing usable compost often takes several months to a year.

Environmental impact

Both commercial and home composting methods significantly reduce the amount of organic waste sent to landfills, thus lessening environmental impact. However, commercial composting can achieve a larger scale reduction and is often capable of processing waste with facilities designed to capture and treat emissions such as methane, especially in anaerobic setups. Home composting, while smaller in scale and impact, plays a crucial role in reducing personal carbon footprints and promoting sustainable waste management practices at the individual or household level.



Commercial composting operates on a large scale, using advanced technologies to manage diverse and voluminous waste efficiently. It is suitable for municipal or industrial settings and can process a wider range of materials, including meats and bioplastics, under regulated conditions that facilitate faster decomposition.


Home composting is more accessible and personal. It focuses on kitchen scraps and yard waste using simpler equipment like bins or tumblers. Home composting is a slower method and requires more hands-on management. Hence, it typically caters to the needs of individual households, emphasising sustainability over speed and volume.


Understanding the differences between commercial composting and home composting is essential for choosing the appropriate method for your needs. Each has its benefits and challenges, but both play crucial roles in sustainable waste management and environmental conservation.


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