In February 2009, Maine adopted significant changes to its compost facility rules in an effort to advance the practice of composting. The revision of Maine’s composting rules was mandated by Chapter 139 of the 2007 Legislative Resolves (Note: A “Resolve” is defined in Maine as “Laws having a temporary or limited purpose that do not amend the general public laws.”)
With this, the state legislature directed the Departments of Agriculture and Environmental Protection to collaborate to ease the regulatory burden on agricultural composting operations and revise the volume and types of materials that may be composted without a permit from the state. Comments were solicited from the public and a draft of the revised regulations was presented in a public hearing before the Board of Environmental Protection, which adopted the revised regulations. The new regulations were published in local newspapers and sent to persons with an interest in composting issues in Maine.
The Resolve resulted in the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Environmental Protection beginning to differentiate between composters processing “municipal sludge, septage, industrial sludge, or other materials with a higher risk of contamination” and lower risk agricultural composting operations, which composted materials such as animal, vegetative, and food wastes. The Resolve required the departments to review and revise the amount and type of materials that agricultural composters may process without seeking a license from the Department of Environmental Protection.
In order to differentiate municipal and agricultural compost facilities, state composting rules were separated into a new chapter of solid waste regulations (CMR 410) in the Code of Maine Rules. New permit exemptions and changes to the regulatory thresholds were adopted. Maine also developed a classification system for different types of compost feedstocks, based on the ratio of carbon to nitrogen (C:N) in the given material. Materials with a higher proportion of nitrogen (i.e. a lower C:N ratio) have greater potential to produce odors and leachate, while others have far less risk and thus fewer required regulatory restrictions.
Operation is permit-exempt if, in a 30 day period, the facility:
|Accepts less than 10 cubic yards of Type IA residuals (i.e. leaf, vegetative, and other residuals with a C:N ratio of greater than 25:1)|
|Accepts less than 5 cubic yards of Type IB residuals (i.e. food and other residuals with a C:N ratio of between 25:1 to 15:1)|
|Accepts less than 5 cubic yards of Type IC residuals (i.e. fish and other residuals with a C:N ratio of less than 15:1)|
|Composts 10,000 cubic yards or less of animal manure per year|
|Or, the facility composts domestic animal and poultry carcasses from routine events pursuant to the Maine Department of Agriculture, Food, and Rural Resources’ “Rules and Regulations Relating to Disease Control of Domestic Animals and Poultry,” 01-001 CMR 211|
Further exemptions from the permit requirements are available to agricultural composters such as:
- “Agricultural Composting Operations that, in any thirty (30) consecutive day period, compost a total of between five (5) and sixty (60) cubic yards of Type IB and IC residuals, and is operated in accordance with a Compost Management Plan approved by the Maine Department of Agriculture, Food, and Rural Resources”
- “Agricultural Composting Operations that compost any volume of Type IA, Type IB, or Type IC waste provided that at least 70% of the finished compost product is used at appropriate agronomic rates on the farm that produced the compost within two (2) years after it is produced, and provided that the facility is operated in accordance with a Compost Management Plan approved by the Maine Department of Agriculture, Food and Rural Resources”
Although the Maine Department of Environmental Protection issues solid waste management rules for composting, it is stated that the exempt facilities above should still comply with the Department of Agriculture, Food, and Rural Resources’ Best Management Practices.
Maine Composting School
The University of Maine Cooperative Extension (UMCE), Maine Department of Agriculture, Food and Rural Resources (DAF&RR), and Maine Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), and Maine State Planning Office (SPO) offer a regularly scheduled award winning, internationally renowned Maine Compost School. This school provides training to people interested in or involved with medium and large-scale composting operations. This course is offered as a certificate program and trains people to be qualified compost site operators.
- Maine Solid Waste Management Rules, Title 38: Composting Facilities, 06-096 CMR 410 (April 2015)
- Maine Dept. of Env. Protection – Guide to Recovering and Composting Organics (March 2016)
- Maine Dept. of Agriculture, Conservation, and Forestry – Composting Program
Full Text of Maine Resolve To Streamline the Regulation of Agricultural Composters – Chapter 139 (2007)
Resolve, To Streamline the Regulation of Agricultural Composters
Preamble. Whereas, the Legislature recognizes the benefits of agricultural composting operations to the environment, farms and rural economies; and
Whereas, the Department of Agriculture, Food and Rural Resources and the Department of Environmental Protection share an interest in encouraging the development of geographically dispersed agricultural composting operations; now, therefore, be it
Sec. 1. Department of Environmental Protection directed to revise rules. Resolved: That the Commissioner of Environmental Protection shall revise the Department of Environment Protection’s rules pertaining to the licensing of solid waste processing facilities to clearly differentiate licensing requirements for agricultural composting operations from requirements for operations that compost municipal sludge, septage, industrial sludge or other materials with a higher risk of contamination. For the purposes of this resolve, “agricultural composting operation” means composting that takes place on a farm and uses only animal manure, animal carcasses and offal, fish waste, leaves, wood chips, animal bedding and other vegetative waste, produce and other vegetable and food waste. The Commissioner of Environmental Protection, in consultation with the Commissioner of Agriculture, Food and Rural Resources, shall review and revise the tiers that determine volumes of materials that may be composted at an agricultural composting operation without triggering the requirement for a waste facilities license from the Department of Environmental Protection; and be it further
Sec. 2. Department of Agriculture, Food and Rural Resources to establish components of a compost management plan. Resolved: That the Commissioner of Agriculture, Food and Rural Resources, working with the Department of Environmental Protection, shall develop necessary components of a compost management plan for agricultural composting operations. The purpose of a plan is to demonstrate that the facility is designed to prevent the discharge of pollutants, control leachates, minimize odors and the dispersion of disease vectors and ensure a stable, high-quality end product. A compost management plan must be specific to the proposed compost site and the farm’s available land base for the operation. The 2 departments shall provide technical assistance in the development of a compost management plan to persons proposing to establish or expand an agricultural composting operation; and be it further
Sec. 3. Commissioners to report to the Joint Standing Committee on Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry and the Joint Standing Committee on Natural Resources. Resolved: That, no later than December 3, 2007, the Commissioner of Agriculture, Food and Rural Resources and the Commissioner of Environmental Protection shall report to the Joint Standing Committee on Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry and the Joint Standing Committee on Natural Resources on the status of the rules revision required under section 1, and a description of elements to be included in a compost management plan for agricultural composting operations under section 2. The commissioners shall report on any other activities initiated or materials produced to provide guidance to farmers considering developing or expanding an agricultural composting operation. The commissioners shall articulate in their report agreement on jurisdictional boundaries relating to oversight of agricultural composting operations, unresolved issues and recommendations to further the goal of encouraging appropriate siting, design and operation of agricultural composting operations; and be it further
Sec. 4. Authority to submit legislation. Resolved: That the Joint Standing Committee on Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry may submit legislation pertaining to the regulation of agricultural composting operations to the Second Regular Session of the 123rd Legislature.
Original post from July 30, 2012
Updated June 20, 2016