By incorporating space-efficient, odor-controlled, and environmentally conscious technologies into composting operations, we can simultaneously enhance sustainability and meet the evolving needs of our communities and the planet.
By Scott Woods

In an era characterized by heightened environmental consciousness, composting operations have gained significance as vital contributors to sustainable waste management. Traditional composting facilities have long played a pivotal role in reducing organic waste and minimizing environmental impact. However, as the demands for waste processing escalate, so does the need for more efficient and environmentally friendly composting methods. This article explores various cutting-edge technologies that can significantly reduce the overall footprint of a traditional composting facility. While we respect the diversity of available options, we aim to emphasize that composting with covered aerated static pile systems, complemented by solutions like aerated static pile with reversing air and biofilters, as well as in-building or tunnel systems with biofilters, offers remarkable potential for enhancing sustainability and increasing processing capacity.


Large scale windrow composting operation.


SG Bunker® system showing different states of composting—full pile without aeration, full pile with the blowers on, and an empty bunker with the cover winder.



The Growing Demand for Sustainable Composting
Composting has long been established as an effective method for diverting organic waste from landfills, mitigating greenhouse gas emissions, and producing valuable soil amendments. In today’s world, where environmental challenges such as climate change and resource depletion loom large, the demand for sustainable composting solutions is on the rise. Traditional composting facilities have been the stalwarts of this industry for decades, but they often encounter limitations concerning space, odor control, and processing capacity.

To meet the increasing demand and overcome these challenges, composting facilities are increasingly exploring innovative technologies that can enhance efficiency, reduce environmental impact, and optimize space usage.


Artist rendering of an in-building system with negative air pressure filtering through a biofilter.



Understanding the Need for Footprint Reduction
One of the primary concerns for composting facilities is the physical footprint required for their operations. In densely populated urban areas, available space is limited and costly. A large physical footprint can lead to a range of environmental and logistical challenges, including higher transportation costs, longer processing times, and potential conflicts with neighboring communities due to odor concerns.

To address these issues, composting operations must consider alternative technologies that enable them to achieve more with less space. This entails increasing processing capacity while simultaneously reducing the physical footprint of the facility. Several innovative composting technologies have emerged in recent years to accomplish these goals, and we will explore some of them here.


A Sustainable Generation control system and blower mounted on the wall of a bunker.


The oxygen and temperature sensors installed in a SG/GORE® Cover system.


Exploring Composting Solutions for Footprint Reduction
While traditional composting methods have been effective, they often encounter limitations related to space, odor control, and processing capacity. As the world grapples with environmental challenges like climate change and resource scarcity, the demand for innovative composting solutions is rapidly increasing. Following we explore different composting technologies designed specifically to minimize the environmental footprint of composting operations. These technologies not only optimize space usage, but may also address key concerns such as odor management, greenhouse gas emissions, and processing capacity.

Covered Aerated Static Pile Systems
Covered aerated static pile systems have already demonstrated their prowess in reducing the footprint of composting operations. They optimize space use and are effective in odor control. Additionally, they contribute to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and increasing processing capacity. These systems create an enclosed environment where the composting process is accelerated through controlled aeration. They excel at retaining heat and moisture, ensuring efficient decomposition of organic waste.

Aerated Static Pile with Reversing Air and Biofilters
Another innovation in composting technology is the use of aerated static pile systems with reversing air and biofilters. Reversing air technology periodically draws in fresh air to support aerobic decomposition and expels odorous gases through a biofilter. Although this option is typically more costly and requires a high degree of maintenance, this system is shown to increase both compost quality and environmental sustainability while managing odor concerns effectively.

In-Building or Tunnel Systems with Biofilters
In-building or tunnel composting systems, coupled with biofilters, offer a unique solution for reducing the environmental footprint of composting facilities. These systems are fully enclosed, allowing for precise control of environmental conditions, which accelerates the composting process. Biofilters, consisting of microorganisms, effectively capture and neutralize odorous emissions. The indoor setting reduces the facility’s external footprint and addresses concerns related to space constraints and odor management.


The SG MOBILE® System operating under the Queensboro Bridge in New York.

High-Tech Monitoring and Automation
Incorporating high-tech monitoring and automation systems can further optimize composting operations. These systems enable real-time monitoring of temperature, moisture, and oxygen levels, allowing for precise control and adjustments. By minimizing variations and enhancing efficiency, these technologies contribute to reducing the overall environmental footprint.


Aerial photo of a large SG BUNKER® System, along with SG MOBILE® Systems, in Maryland. Overall footprint was reduced while increasing the capacity of the facility.
Photos courtesy of Sustainable Generation.



Composting in Urban Areas
Composting operations in urban areas can use small-scale, innovative systems designed specifically for space-constrained environments. These systems are tailored to manage organic waste from households, businesses, and restaurants, making composting accessible and convenient within city limits. By decentralizing composting facilities and reducing the need for long-distance waste transport, the environmental footprint is diminished significantly while also making the finished product available sooner.
The Advantages of Innovative
Composting Technologies
The examples provided above illustrate the significant potential of various composting technologies in reducing the footprint of composting operations. These innovations offer several key advantages:
1. Space Efficiency: The foremost benefit of these technologies is their ability to optimize space use. Whether through covered aerated static pile systems, aerated static pile systems with reversing air and biofilters, or in-building/tunnel systems, composting operations can process more organic waste in smaller areas, crucial for facilities in densely populated regions where land is scarce.
2. Odor Control: Effective odor control is a critical aspect of sustainable composting. The covered and biofilter-equipped systems excel in containing odors, fostering better relations with neighboring communities, and improving the work environment for staff.
3. Reduced Greenhouse Gas Emissions: By accelerating the composting process and efficiently managing aeration, these technologies minimize greenhouse gas emissions typically associated with traditional composting methods. This contributes to a more environmentally friendly operation.
4. Increased Processing Capacity: These technologies can handle substantial volumes of organic waste efficiently, allowing composting facilities to expand their processing capacity without significantly expanding their physical footprint.
5. Versatility: The adaptability and versatility of these systems make them suitable for a wide range of operational needs and locations. Whether it is a large-scale composting operation or a small-scale urban facility, innovative technologies offer solutions tailored to specific requirements.

Evolving Needs
These innovations represent a diverse array of approaches to efficient and sustainable composting. While we respect the diversity of available options, these systems offer a promising path toward a more environmentally friendly future. By incorporating space-efficient, odor-controlled, and environmentally conscious technologies into composting operations, we can simultaneously enhance sustainability and meet the evolving needs of our communities and the planet. | WA

Reducing Footprints

As the demand for sustainable waste management solutions continues to rise, composting operations must prioritize reducing their environmental footprint while increasing processing capacity. While various composting technologies exist, covered aerated static pile systems, exemplified by Sustainable Generation with GORE® Cover, have proven to be exceptional in achieving this goal.

The success stories of composting facilities using these systems, such as reducing a facilities footprint from 50-acres to 3-acres with Maryland Environmental Systems, using Sustainable Generation and GORE® Cover, demonstrate that it is possible to process substantial quantities of organic waste in a space-efficient and eco-friendly manner. These systems not only reduce the environmental impact of composting operations, but also offer economic advantages through reduced infrastructure, maintenance, and transportation costs while increasing processing capacity.


Scott Woods is the CEO of Sustainable Generation and a contributing writer for Waste Advantage Magazine. Sustainable Generation is an Advanced CompostingTM Technology company and the authorized supplier of GORE® Cover technology in North America. The SG GORE® Cover technology recently was selected for use in the largest food waste composting operation on the East Coast. With more than 20 years in the market, and many studies proving the effectiveness of the technology, the GORE® Cover is well known as the market leader in membrane technology. By creating innovative CASP technology, Sustainable Generation’s Advanced CompostingTM Technology with GORE® Cover offers compost operators a comprehensive solution that gives them a significant step toward enhancing their operations, reducing environmental impact, and contributing to a more sustainable future. Scott can be reached at [email protected]. For more information, visit or