Home composting is a powerful tool, which is spreading in different parts of the world, to reduce the generation of municipal waste. However, there is debate concerning the appropriateness, in terms of domestic hygiene and safety, of keeping a composter bin in the household deputed to kitchen waste of animal origin, such as meat or fish scraps and pet droppings. The purpose of our work was to study how the addition of meat scraps to household waste influences the composting process and the quality of the final compost obtained. We compared four raw material mixtures, characterized by a different combination of vegetable and meat waste and different ratios of woody bulking agent. Changes in temperature, mass and volume, phenotypic microbial diversity (by Biolog™) and organic matter humification were determined during the process. At the end of the experiment, the four composts were weighed and characterized by physicochemical analysis. In addition, the presence of viable weed seeds was investigated and a germination bioassay was carried out to determine the level of phytotoxicity. Finally, the levels of pathogens (Escherichia coli and Salmonella spp.) were also determined in the final compost. Here we show that the presence of meat waste as raw feedstock for composting in bins can improve the activity of the process, the physicochemical characteristics and maturity of the compost obtained, without significantly affecting its salinity, pH and phytotoxicity. Pathogen levels were low, showing that they can be controlled by an intensive management and proper handling of the composter bins.
Keywords: Compost quality; Home composting; Human pathogens; Meat waste; Waste prevention.
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