Ash in composting of source-separated catering waste

Niina Koivula (Corresponding Author), Tarja Räikkönen, Sari Urpilainen, Jussi Ranta, Kari Hänninen

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51 Citations (Scopus)


Our earlier experiments in small composters (220 l) indicated the favourable effect of ash from co-incineration of sorted dry waste on the composting of catering waste. The aim of this new study was to clarify further, at a scale of 10 m3, the feasibility of using similar ash as an additive in composting.

Source-separated catering waste was mixed with bulking agent (peat and wood chips) and fuel ash from a small (4 MW) district heating power plant. Three compost mixes (CM) were obtained: CM I with 0%, CM II with 10% and CM III with 20 wt.% of fuel ash. These three different mixes were composted in a 10-m3 drum composter as three parallel experiments for 2 weeks each, from January to April 2000. After drum composting, masses were placed according to mixing proportions in separate curing piles.

The catering waste fed to the drum was cold, sometimes icy. Even then the temperature rapidly increased to over 50 °C. In CM III, the temperature rose as high as 80 °C, and after the first week of composting the temperature was about 20 °C higher in the CMs II and III than in the CM I. It also improved the oxygen concentrations at the feeding end of the drum and obviously prevented the formation of H2S. No odour problems arose during the composting. Addition of ash increased the heavy metal contents of the composting masses, but the compost was suitable for cultivation or green area construction. Ash clearly decreased the loss of total nitrogen in a time span of 2 years. The lower amounts of nitrogen mean that the amounts applied per hectare can be greater than for normal composts.

Measured by mineralization, the breaking down of the organic matter was more rapid in the CM III than in the CM I. Humic acid increased steadily during first 12 months composting, from the initial 39 mg/g organic matter to 115 and 137 mg/g in CMs II and III. Measured by temperature, mineralization and humification the addition of ash appeared to boost the composting. Ash had also other beneficial effects on composting it improved the availability of oxygen in compost mass during the drum composting phase and reduced the formation of odorous gases, especially H2S.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)291-299
JournalBioresource Technology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2004
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • composting
  • composts
  • catering waste
  • ash
  • additive


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