Starting a Composting Business

by Tolu
(Nigeria)

I would like to start a composting business in my home country. What are the necessary requirements, and cost of starting a small scale composting company?


Updated - Dec. 18-2011

We just released our first interview in our new Pearls from the Pile series. We are traveling across the globe asking compost producers for their advice on starting compost-related businesses. You're going to love this series. Check it out in our Interviews section.

Enjoy.

Compost Junkie Dave

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Jun 01, 2010
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Starting a Compost Business - Part 1 of 2
by: Compost Junkie Dave

Hi Tolu,

First of all, thank you so much for writing us all the way from Nigeria. I'm honored that you've joined in the tribe of compost junkies.

I'll do my best to provide you with some basic start-up information; however, I ask anyone else visiting the site to add their contributions as well. I too am just starting to compost on a commercial scale.

Here are a couple important things to consider before you begin your composting operation:

1. You must determine what materials you will be composting. Are these materials limited in supply? To help ensure uniformity and consistency in your finished product, you'll want to secure several sources for your materials (in case one supplier runs dry). You'll want to decide on the specific ingredient blends you will use. Do you have any sources of clay in your area? If so, I highly recommend using it in your blends (approximately 10% of your total ingredients).

2. How much compost would you like to generate in a year? This will help you determine the size of the site you're going to need for your operation. Will you be operating on agricultural land? Many commercial composters like to build large concrete floors to prevent their compost from leaching (as would be the case if you composted on soil). Does your site have a ready supply of water? You'll need quite a bit of it.

3. Be sure to check into the local regulations surrounding composting in your region. These regulations may limit the amounts of compost you can produce on a specific piece of property. Contact your closest agricultural extension and/or farm association for details.

4. What type of composting will you be doing (i.e. dynamic windrow, forced aeration, static pile, vermicomposting)? Up here, most commercial compost producers use a dynamic windrow approach, however, more and more worm composting producers are popping up.

See part 2 of 2 below...

Jun 01, 2010
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Starting a Compost Business - Part 2 of 2
by: Compost Junkie Dave

...continued from part 1 of 2 above.

5. Will you be operating year round? or is this a seasonal business? As with any outdoor operation, you must consider Mother Nature. We highly recommend the use of compost covers such as those made by TopTex (TopTex Compost Fleece) to help provide better control over your composting conditions.

6. Are there any other compost producers in your area? If so, I highly recommend visiting them, discussing your plans, and asking for their guidance. You'll learn more in a day with them than you would in reading 10-20 composting books.

7. What will you be doing with the finished product? How will you be selling it? If selling it in bulk you'll need a means of loading your compost into trucks/trailers. If you're bagging your product, you'll need to source the proper bagging equipment/facilities. Will you be creating any other products from your compost? For instance, will you be blending it to make various soil mixtures (potting soil, garden soil, etc.)

8. You'll need a means of testing your compost, especially if you plan on selling it to the public. Do you know of any soil testing labs nearby? Are they capable of testing compost?

Recommended Equipment/Supplies
(these really depend on your individual situation and operation)

- Tractor/Front-End Loader
- Compost Turner
- Screener
- Compost Covers
- A means of adding water to your piles (some turners have watering capabilities built right in)
- Meters (temperature probe/thermometer, oxygen meter, carbon dioxide meter, moisture meter)

It is incredibly hard to estimate costs based on the little information I have about your operation.

I hope this information has been of some help. Please reply if you have any further questions or comments.

I look forward to hearing more about your business as it develops.

Good Luck.

Dave

May 30, 2012
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Staging the Process of composting.
by: Nelson Figueroa

So I was wondering about having multiple stages for creating finish compost. For example,
Stage 1: thermal (hot) compost for the first 5 turns

Stage 2: Vermicomposting for haft a month to a month.

By two months you will have some good compost to sell.

Are there any good examples of this or small scale composting businesses?

Thank you for the info about starting a commercial compost business. the information is very helpful.


Sep 16, 2014
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Local compostable products
by: TrashToTreasurer

First off thank you for the valuable information on starting a composting business!
I am currently a student in Sustainable Studies and had been searching for compostable products for my University's permaculture garden when I stumbled upon a great source I think is worth sharing but still needs clarification.
This relatively small campus has three separate coffee shops, one of which is a well-known brand (sounds like Far Ducks) and has willingly offered me their used coffee grounds.
Is there a limit on how much coffee grounds I should add to my compost bin? I'm trying to stick with a 2:1 ration of dry grasses/leaves and veggie/fruit scraps and am not sure where coffee grounds fit in.

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