[USCC] Re: produce waste storage

Steve Diver steved@ncatark.uark.edu
Thu Dec 6 20:18:52 2001

The topic is how to store large volumes of food scraps prior to 
turning them into compost.... without creating a big smelly mess.  

My guess is that many composters would simply like to see those food 
scraps taken to an aerobic composting facility--pronto!, to avoid 
odors and flies which will be the inevitable result if you just put 
food scraps in a bin and leave them there.  Holes punched into the 
bin won't alter this outcome. 

Here are the three ways I see integration of food scraps with 

1. Aerobic composting.  Take the barrels of food scraps to a compost 
windrow or an in-vessell facility on a daily basis.  Once the food 
scraps are mixed in with large volume of carbonaceous materials, they 
become part of a big composting process and that's the end of the 
food scrap story. 

2. Worm composting.  Large-scale worm composting is being done at 
at a number of facilities, and food scraps are one of the feedstocks 
viewed as a desirable food source for the worms.  But again, the food 
scraps need to be hauled away from the kitchen and incorporated into 
worm bins on a daily basis.  

3. Fermentative anaerobic bioprocessing with EM, or Effective 
Microorganisms.  EM is a microbial inoculant that preserves food 
scraps and allows storage on site by keeping them in a fresh 
condition, thus preventing the alternative microbial pathway which 
is putrefaction.  Kitchens, restaurants, and institutional food 
establishments will find it useful.  

When you mix EM bokashi (rice or wheat bran pre-treated with EM) with 
food scraps, you can keep the food scraps in a closed bucket or 
barrel on site for periods of weeks at a time, without attracting any 
odors or flies.  The lactobacillus bacteria and other EM microbials 
are geared to fermentative anaerobic bioprocessing.  In other words, 
the EM process preserves the food scraps in a fresh condition through 
a "pickling" process. 

Hauling food scraps on a daily basis is not suitable under every 
circumstance.  Thus, a primary benefit of EM is the ability to 
maintain the food scaps on site.  Then you can take the 
EM-bioprocessed food scraps to a regular aerobic or worm 
composting facility where they become integrated as a regular food 
scrap feedstock.  

In Switzerland, we viewed a large food processing facility that was 
doing this sort of thing. They chopped lettuces and cabbages and 
carrots for salad mixes, and as a result they accumulated large 
volumes of food scraps.  These piles of food were treated with EM, 
and kept in a fresh condition for several weeks.  When it came time 
to build a large-scale compost windrow -- an aerobic windrow -- the 
EM-treated food scraps were integrated as a regular N-rich feedstock. 

Note:  The buckets or barrels need to have a spigot at the bottom, 
so that juices from food scraps can be drained off, a natural 
byproduct of the process.

I have an EM bokashi  bucket with food scraps that is 6 weeks 
old and still sitting in my kitchen.  It does have a white mold 
covering some of the food scraps and that is a normal process.   
Typically, if I put food scraps in a container and let it sit 
on the counter instead of walking outside to the compost pile, they 
get a fuzzy mold within 2-4 days and fruit flies start buzzing 

Here is my web article on EM with notes and resources.  Emtrading.com 
in Missouri -- listed as a web link -- is the N. American source for 
the liquid inoculant as well as EM bokashi pre-treated bran. 

Nature Farming and Effective Microorganisms 


EM consists of mixed cultures of beneficial and naturally-occurring
microorganisms that co-exist in a liquid medium.  When the
microbial inoculant is applied to organic wastes or introduced
into the environment, their individual beneficial effect is
multiplied in a synergistic fashion.  The culture consists
primarily of lactic bacteria, photosynthetic bacteria, and
yeasts, and contains over 80 different microorganisms altogether.
The main species of microorganisms in EM include:  [1] Lactic
acid bacteria: Lactobacillus plantarum, Lactobacillus casei,
Streptococcus lactis; [2] Photosynthetic bacteria: 
Rhodopseudomonas palustrus, Rhodobacter spaeroides; [3] Yeasts: 
Saccharomyces cerevisiae, Candida utilis; [4] Actinomycetes: 
Streptomyces albus, Streptomyces griseus; and [5] Fermenting     
Fungi:  Aspergillus oryzae, Mucor hiemalis. 

In addition, I call your attention to the following online resources 
from William F. Brinton, on the Woods End Research Laboratory 
website, regarding food scrap composting and related pathogenic 

HTML Source:

Microbial Approaches to Characterization 
of Composting Processes

Survival of E. coil and Salmonella in Compost 

Detection of Viable Listeria in Foodscrap Composting

Steve Diver