Mass balances and life cycle inventory of home composting of organic waste

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A comprehensive experimental setup with six single-family home composting units was monitored during 1year. The composting units were fed with 2.6–3.5kg organic household waste (OHW) per unit per week. All relevant consumptions and emissions of environmental relevance were addressed and a full life-cycle inventory (LCI) was established for the six home composting units. No water, electricity or fuel was used during composting, so the major environmental burdens were gaseous emissions to air and emissions via leachate. The loss of carbon (C) during composting was 63–77% in the six composting units. The carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane (CH4) emissions made up 51–95% and 0.3–3.9% respectively of the lost C. The total loss of nitrogen (N) during composting was 51–68% and the nitrous oxide (N2O) made up 2.8–6.3% of this loss. The NH3 losses were very uncertain but small. The amount of leachate was 130LMg−1 wet waste (ww) and the composition was similar to other leachate compositions from home composting (and centralised composting) reported in literature. The loss of heavy metals via leachate was negligible and the loss of C and N via leachate was very low (0.3–0.6% of the total loss of C and 1.3–3.0% of the total emitted N). Also the compost composition was within the typical ranges reported previously for home composting. The level of heavy metals in the compost produced was below all threshold values and the compost was thus suitable for use in private gardens.
Original languageEnglish
JournalWaste Management
Issue number9-10
Pages (from-to)1934-1942
Publication statusPublished - 2011


  • Compost quality
  • Emissions
  • Substance flow analysis
  • Organic household waste
  • Mass flow analysis
  • Life-cycle inventory
  • Single-family
  • Greenhouse gases
  • Home composting


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