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Composting and Ohio’s Food Scrap Recovery Initiative

Did you know an average household throws away around 474 pounds of food waste each year? If food scraps from every home in Ohio were piled on a football field, it would reach as high as the Willis Tower (former Sears Tower) in Chicago - more than 1,450 feet! If we pile food scraps from all households in the United States on a football field, it would be more than five miles (26,400 feet) high!

Up to 90 percent of supermarket and restaurant waste are food scraps. In fact, food scraps are the third largest part of the waste stream — around 26 million tons per year. Unfortunately, they are also the least recovered or reused.

Ohio EPA encourages communities and businesses to divert food scraps from landfills by composting. The environment benefits from keeping food scraps out of landfills, and communities and businesses save money by reducing disposal costs. Through the composting process, food scraps transform into a rich organic soil builder to use in gardens and landscapes, providing many benefits to the soil.

In Ohio, composting is subject to regulation. The rules outline compost facility permitting and operation requirements, including what types of wastes may be composted and where that compost may be used. The rules also provide certain exemptions or exclusions for composting waste generated on-site, such as a household doing backyard composting or farming operations. For more information, go to Ohio EPA’s website.

Over the years, changes to Ohio’s composting rules have made it easier for households, community gardens and urban farms to compost materials without sacrificing the protection of public health and the environment. This includes expanding the list of those excluded from registration, licensing, testing and other requirements, streamlining the authorization process and reducing or eliminating some associated costs.

If you have questions, please contact Ohio EPA’s Division of Materials and Waste Management (DMWM) at (614) 644-2621 or DEFA’s free, confidential assistance hotline at (800) 329-7518.