Rural vs. Suburban Composting – Different Paths to Success

Blog ECS Staff 07/01/2014

ECS believes that appropriate technology has a local definition. What is appropriate at one site might be inappropriate at another site even if the locations are just miles apart. Several factors should be investigated before determining and choosing appropriate process technology:

  • Location & odor sensitivity at the site (neighbors)
  • Throughput annual tonnage
  • Type of feedstocks
  • Tipping fee and project budget
  • Climate
  • Cost of labor & cost of equipment

ECS offers a variety of systems (In-vessel, aerated static and turned pile systems) and components (Aeration control & Monitoring System, Aeration Systems & Controls, and Mixers) that are combined for best composting results considering the factors listed above.

General Guidelines for System selection

For this study we have selected two client facilities: Barr-Tech and Compost Factory. Both are located in the State of Washington. Barr-Tech is in a rural area and the Compost Factory is in a Suburban area.

Since Barr-Tech is located in a rural area and neighbors are sparse, the need for odor control is less imperative; and the opposite it true for the Compost Factory.

Here is a quick overview and comparison of the facilities:

Now let’s take a closer look at each facility:


The Barr-Tech facility is located 20 miles outside of Spokane and occupies a 40 acre plot. They use our AC Composter™ (covered ASP), CompDog™, Aeration Floors and CompTroller™ (automated aeration control and monitoring system).

Facility Layout

The Material Flow/Compost Process

The primary and secondary compost process takes about 30 days on aeration. The material is turned only once and water is added during this step. The curing time is 4 to 8 months. The large land plot occupied by the facility allows for longer curing times of the compost.

The Compost Factory:

The Compost Factory is located in Puyallup, WA. The facility is surrounded by a suburban neighborhood and an airport and hospital are located nearby. The process technology is a Turned Aerated Pile System inside an enclosed building. The on-air process time is longer however the overall processing time is much shorter. It is also important to mention that the facility’s footprint is much smaller & and therefore the layout is more compact than at the Barr-Tech facility. ECS supplied the CompTroller™, RF Teleprobes™ and over 14 years of ongoing technical support for the Compost Factory.

Facility Layout

Material Flow

The compost remains on-aeration for 24-36 days and is turned about five times (adding water when necessary). The secondary process, screening and load-out only take 6-12 days.

Even though the processes are so different at each site both facilities produce class A compost of the same great quality.

Each location has its unique assets and challenges which have to be taken into consideration when designing or redesigning the composting systems. Because of this no two ECS facilities are exactly the same. ECS has a variety of systems and components available to set up your composting facility specifically to meet the demands of your site’s unique needs.