Since 1997, it has been “unlawful to deposit yard waste, including grass clippings and leaves, in a solid waste facility in West Virginia.” This government imposed ban has helped establish a constant stream of diverted yard debris. Interestingly, West Virginia addresses composting in a novel way: it categorizes acceptable farm and facility feedstock types more broadly than most states. West Virginia’s Yard Waste Composting Rule (33CSR3) lays out the state’s composting policies.
West Virginia’s composting rule applies to “residential and non-residential” (including on-farm) composting facilities that are less than five acres and handle less than 12,000 tons annually, which are exempt from obtaining a commercial solid waste facility permit, so long as they adhere to location and operational standards. Although the rule specifically identifies yard trimmings, it also recognizes other materials including, but not limited to: pre-consumer and post-consumer food (kitchen scraps), coffee grounds, pet and human hair, shredded newspapers, lint and sweepings, wood ashes, fish and poultry carcasses/litter, and animal manures. These or “other acceptable compostable materials which have been approved in writing […] to produce a safe product for use as soil amendment/conditioner” are considered approved compostables.
Developing a Market for Compost
West Virginia’s code also allows farmers sell their compost without restriction, unless they charge customers to accept food residuals, and then they must obtain permitting like that of commercial yard trimmings composting facilities. However, this does not apply if farmers ask for a “composting fee” to cover operational costs such as collecting materials and turning rows.
What’s more, West Virginia has sought to broaden its scope of allowable materials for composting. According to Steve Miller, Assistant Commissioner of the West Virginia Department of Agriculture, in 2012 the department was working on specifying livestock and wildlife carcasses as additional permitted materials. By 2015, the West Virginian Legislature passed an amendment to § 19-9-34 of the state code, which made it permissible to compost the carcasses of domestic animals in a rotary drum composter. This not only increases the range of materials allowed as compost feedstock, but also prevents the spread of disease through contaminated ground and surface water.
- West Virginia’s composting rule: Title 33, Legislative Rule, Department of Environmental Protection Division of Waste Management, Series 3: Yard Waste Composting Rule (33CSR3) [PDF]
- WV Yard Waste Composting Rule – PDFs of 1997 and 2001 versions
- “Program for Handling Yard Waste in West Virginia” (1993) [PDF]
Original post from July 30, 2012
Updated July 28, 2021