Site Design Objectives

Once an appropriate site and technology have been selected, the following objectives should be prioritized when designing the site:

  • Minimize the amount of material handling, traffic equipment crossing paths and vehicle bottlenecks
  • Ensure separate areas for clean and contaminated materials – clean materials should be sited uphill of new feedstocks/unfinished materials to reduce contamination
  • Provide facilities for ease of vehicle/equipment maintenance and housekeeping
  • Control access and maintain security of the facility
  • Provide physical or vegetative buffers around the site
  • Provide additional area for seasonal surges in feedstocks (ex. leaf and yard waste in autumn) or unanticipated surges (ex. spoiled food)

Site Design

(includes Site Design Objectives and Water Management Plan)

Most municipalities consult outside engineering firms to design their organics facilities. These businesses can be hired to look at systems, or can be hired to design a chosen system on a site you have already. They will look at your footprint, equipment needed and processing rates to produce end product at a rate your site can handle. Take a look at the RFPs below as you are developing your own. (This is not an endorsement of the RFPs listed, but serves as an example for drawing up your own procurement documents). 

In general, the composting process involves the following steps, which must be integrated into the site’s design: 

  • Receiving and pre-processing of feedstocks: Organic materials may be weighed or measured, upon receipt, and then stockpiled prior to processing (e.g., leaves). The receiving area can be an open area, partially-enclosed area or fully-enclosed area, such as a building. Some organic materials, such as food scraps, are generally not stockpiled for any length of time and are typically incorporated into the composting process within a short period of time (e.g., the day of receipt). The organic materials (e.g., food scraps, yard trimmings, soiled paper) may be mixed and/or shredded to create a mixture that meets the system’s feedstock requirements. The types of organic materials and mixtures, and the amount of processing required, will depend on the process or technology used.
  • Processing: Pre-processed feedstock materials are placed in piles or introduced into process vessels where the aerobic process occurs.
  • Post-processing and storage: Processed organic materials are screened to remove non-organic materials and large particles (e.g., sticks, rocks, wood chips) to create fine-grade compost for distribution or sale.  In some cases, additional curing time or processing may be needed, such as for the in-vessel process. 

Key concepts, applicable to most compost technologies, are defined as follows: 

  • Composting Pad: Ground on which composting activities take place. An “all weather composting pad” is one of sufficient construction, firmness and grading so that composting equipment can manage the process during normal inclement weather, including rain, snow and freezing temperatures. 
  • Contact Water:  Water that has come in contact with raw feedstocks or active composting piles. It typically does not include water from curing piles, finished compost or product storage piles. 
  • Curing:  A continuation of the composting process after the high heat stage during which stability and maturity continues to increase. 
  • Stormwater:  Precipitation that has not come into contact with raw feedstocks or active composting piles. 
Links and Resources

City of Davis

District of Oak Bay
Ventura County
City of Boulder
Susitna Alaska

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