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Composting & Organics Recycling Technologies

DEC is focused on diverting organic materials from landfills through recycling in New York State. Determining the best method of recycling organics is dependent on several factors, such as the type of material, quantity, agricultural land availability, facility siting, end product markets, cost, available incentives, and others.

Anaerobic Digestion - The processing of organic materials in anaerobic (without oxygen) conditions by microorganisms, which break down the material into biogas and a digestate.

Biosolids Management - Biosolids, or the resultant materials from the treatment of wastewater carried through the sewer lines from homes and businesses, can be recycled and utilized as a soil amendment.

Composting - The controlled, aerobic decomposition of organic materials that creates a nutrient-rich soil amendment product called compost.

Land Application - The management of organic wastes where the material is applied directly (or injected) to agricultural fields, reducing the need for commerical fertilizers and improving soil quality.

Mulch Processing - Mulch processing facilities create a product derived from tree debris, yard trimmings, and other suitable woody material, which is intended for use on soil surfaces to prevent the growth of weeds and minimize erosion.

Other Technologies and Methods

Animal Feed

Some facilities process food scraps into animal/pet feed through cooking, drying, pasteurizing, and other methods. They can produce a higher value feed product from food scraps than from many raw agricultural and food products. These facilities are regulated under 6 NYCRR Part 361-3 as Animal Feed Production Facilities.

Alternatively, the feeding of breads and grain products, as well as other food scraps, to animals is a common occurrence on farms. When done properly, feeding excess food and scraps to animals can be beneficial to their diets.


Sometimes called vermicomposting, this technology relies on worms to do the work. Under the right conditions, worms will consume many organic wastes, leaving additional worms and worm castings. The castings are useful as a soil amendment. Vermiculture can occur at a variety of sizes from a classroom bin to large scale beds.


Fermentation is the consumption of sugars by yeast to form alcohol. It has been used historically to produce alcohol for human consumption but can also be used to produce ethanol for fuel use from many types of organic wastes. The solids byproduct from the fermentation process can then be used for animal feed, land application, or as a feedstock for an anaerobic digester. Facilities processing organic wastes by method of fermentation are regulated under 6 NYCRR Part 361-3.4.

More about Composting & Organics Recycling Technologies:

  • Anaerobic Digestion - Through anaerobic digestion organic materials are processed in an airtight container by microorganisms which break down the material into biogas and a digestate. More than half of biogas is methane which can be used as a renewable energy source.
  • Biosolids Management - Sometimes referred to as sewage sludge. Biosolids are the solid or semi-solid organic materials resulting from the treatment of wastewater carried through sewer lines from homes and businesses.
  • Composting - Composting in NYS
  • Land Application - Materials such as sewage sludge, non-sewage sludge, septage and food processing provides valuable nutrients to enrich soils.
  • Mulch Processing Facilities - Mulch processing facilities