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> i.e. perhaps the best reason to recycle or compost is to avoid the methane emissions from natural decomposition.

Uhhh, I think you may want to rethink that. Rotting things, whether in a landfill or in your ecologically principled compost heap in your back yard releases methane.




Methane is produced by anaerobic decomposition; composting is defined by the regular aeration (and sometimes watering) of the compost pile, which allows aerobic bacteria to break down the pile more cleanly. You do still get some GHGs, but much less.

See:

https://www.agric.wa.gov.au/climate-change/composting-avoid-...

https://ww3.arb.ca.gov/cc/compost/compost.htm


Your own references point out that aerobic and anaerobic composting are different processes; the latter, which is most of backyard composting (if your heap ain't hot, it ain't aerobic), produces about as much methane as a landfill does, without the ability to collect and burn off the methane.

It boggles me that people emotionally or tribally react to a fact about how chemistry works, google things which support their emotional reaction, and ... don't read what was in their citation.


The first reference does not refer to anaerobic methods as "composting", but as fermentation:

> Decomposing organic material in anaerobic conditions — by microbes in the absence of oxygen — releases methane into the atmosphere. Anaerobic fermentation is common in landfill and open stockpiles such as manure piles [azernik: Manure piles are the second big contributor to methane emissions listed in OP.]

The second one just refers to "anaerobic decomposition".

In both cases this is something they mention as the alternative to composting, i.e. they literally define composting by its use of aerobic decomposition methods.

And yes, I agree that this is a complicated biochemical process that should be done by professionals in dedicated facilities (EDIT: which is where most composting happens in California), not in people's backyards. Where did you hear me arguing for amateur backyard piles?


most backyard heaps are hot, it's actually not hard to do


That sounds like the sort of thing that could be fixed by educational material.

A little methane from the back yard is still better than landfill. But the math for commercial composting vs amateur might need some scrutiny. Transport to the composting facility should also be part of the arithmetic there.


Is most composting done in the backyard? I never even considered composting until I moved to California where the government handles it for me


Worth noting / just pointing out : one common approach to orchard composting [which influences some backyard operations] is to avoid turning it in an effort to 1) promote fungal development and 2) save labor/money


Yeah methane is released inside a compost pile but some of it is consumed by the compost pile by other reactions. That is literally the point of a compost pile versus just a pile of garbage.




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