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Composting of Animal Bedding and Food Waste

Thursday, October 11, 2012 — Poster Session IV

2:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.

Natcher Conference Center, Building 45




  • B.A. Osterink
  • J.A. Johnson


In order to comply with Executive Order 13514 and divert at least 50% of non-hazardous solid waste, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Solid Waste Team commenced the collection and composting of animal bedding in August 2011. In 2011, the NIH Bethesda campus recycled 41% of the solid waste stream. Animal bedding accounts for approximately 15% of the solid waste stream and when captured for composting significantly increases NIH’s recycling rate. A site visit to Recycled Green in Woodbine, Maryland in January 2011 prompted a contract modification and within eight months composting began at three building locations where uncontaminated animal bedding was already being separated from the refuse. In April 2012 a facility was identified in Delaware that would also accept our food waste for composting. Animal bedding is collected three times a day and food waste once a day. The composting program has resulted in a 5 percent increase in NIH’s recycling rate. Over 300 tons were composted between August 2011 and April 2012. It is estimated that over 500 tons of animal bedding will be composted and reused annually as mulch instead of being incinerated, reducing associated air pollution and adverse effects on human health and the environment.

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