Compost is organic material that can be used as a soil amendment or as a medium to grow plants. It is created by combining organic wastes (e.g., yard trimmings, food wastes, manures) in proper ratios into piles, rows or vessels, and allowing the finished material to fully stabilize and mature through a curing process.
The composting industry has grown from less than 1,000 facilities in 1988 to nearly 3,800 in 2000. Once dominated by public sector operations, the industry is increasingly entrepreneurial and private-sector driven, led by firms that add value to compost products through processing and marketing. Prices have been as high as $26 per ton for landscape mulch to more than $100 per ton for high-grade compost, which is bagged and sold at the retail level. It is also fairly easy to set up a simple composting system in your own home. (Source: EPA / Photo: Ockra/iStockphoto)