U.S. Department of Agriculture: Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service


Date of this Version



Published in BIOCYCLE JUNE 2008.


Nontraditional waste management facilities, particularly new projects to compost food scraps, are becoming more common because of national and state initiatives to promote recycling and extend landfill capacities. In fact, food waste is the third largest component of generated waste by weight, following yard trimmings and corrugated boxes. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) estimates that each American disposes of 1.3 pounds of food waste daily or nearly 474 pounds annually. While there is a clear need to recycle food waste, the location of waste management facilities and national initiatives on waste management are increasingly controversial, partly because of potential wildlife related impacts. Responsible development of the industry must include management of facilities to minimize waste material serving as attractants to vectors such as birds and mammals that pose hazards to human health and safety.

Communication by Barnes Nursery, Inc. with local, state and federal officials about potential wildlife hazards posed by the development of their food waste composting business created an atmosphere of collaboration. We suggest a similar approach for others considering food waste composting operations. However, for those operations proposed within FAA siting criteria for certificated airports under Part 139 of the Code of Federal Regulations, or other airports receiving FAA funding, a Wildlife Hazard Assessment might be deemed mandatory. Good communication with the public and government agencies charged with the safety of the public will benefit your business.