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The evolution of compost stability and maturity during the full-scale treatment of the organic fraction of municipal solid waste

Cesaro, Alessandra, Conte, Anna, Belgiorno, Vincenzo, Siciliano, Antonietta, Guida, Marco
Journal of environmental management 2019 v.232 pp. 264-270
compost stability, composting, humic substances, municipal solid waste, organic wastes, phytotoxicity, process monitoring, soil, Italy
Composting is the method most commonly applied worldwide for the recovery of the source sorted organic waste. The process aims at stabilizing the organic matter, so as to produce a material with soil improver properties, referred to as compost. The effective recovery of the organic waste fraction via composting implies compost safe use on soil. In this view, the assessment of compost characteristics, depending on both the quality of the input material and the process operation, is fundamental. At full scale, the process monitoring usually relies on parameters enabling the indirect control of its evolution, whereas the biological stability and maturity are usually evaluated on the final product. Aim of this work was in assessing both biological stability and maturity during the composting process of the organic fraction of municipal solid waste performed at industrial scale. Representative samples were collected over time in a composting facility operating in the South of Italy and analysed by the dynamic respirometric index, the content of humic substances as well as by their phytotoxicity. Results showed the key role of stability and maturity parameters in the monitoring of composting processes. Experimental outcomes further addressed wider considerations on the operational procedures for a sustainable compost production process.