Composters and Other Processors

Processors of Organic Waste

  • Composting Facilities: process different types of organic waste (yard waste, biosolids, food scraps, industrial food manufacturing byproducts, animal manures, and more) and turn it into a rich soil amendment through the process of composting (controlled biological aerobic decomposition of organic waste material).
  • Biomass to Energy Facilities: process mainly woody material through combustion, gasification, or pyrolysis to generate heat and turn it into electricity and steam.
  • Anaerobic Digesters: process organic waste through a controlled anaerobic biological decomposition to create biogas (typically 60% methane, 40% carbon dioxide) which is then refined and injected into a natural gas pipeline or turned into electricity and connected to the electrical grid.
  • Animal Feeding Operations: process mainly meat-free excess food coming from grocery stores or small restaurants and undergoes a maceration or cooking process to be blended and fed to hogs or cattle.
  • Animal Farms: process mainly animal manures through different methods (composting, anaerobic lagoons, drying) and typically apply the end-product to their own fields (land applications), however sometimes they partner with an off-site facility to manage the waste.
  • Produce Farms: process mainly agricultural byproducts on-site.
  • Community Gardens and Urban Farms: process small amounts of agricultural byproducts on small bin systems.
  • Residences: process small amounts of food scraps in backyard bins (tumblers, wooden boxes, plastic bins, worm boxes, and others).


Permitting Composting Facilities

Start with DEQ Division of Waste Management’s website to learn about permitting composting facilities in North Carolina.

Generally if you are composting more than 50 percent food scraps, you will need to obtain a permit from Division of Waste Management. If you compost more than 50 percent animal manures, then you will need to obtain a permit from Division of Water Resources Animal Feeding Operations. Additionally, if you are composting more than 45 percent biosolids, you will need to obtain a permit from the Division of Water Resources Non-Discharge Permitting Unit. Please visit State Organics Recycling Contacts to obtain their contact information.

If you are looking to compost utilizing a process that it is not outlined on the N.C. Compost Rules (i.e. windrow composting, aerated static pile, in-vessel systems), the Solid Waste Section requires a letter from the EPA Pathogen Equivalency Committee (PEC) showing that the new process/technology can effectively reduce pathogens and reduce attracting vectors. For additional information visit the EPA PEC website.

For a list of composting laboratories that can perform pathogen, metals, and the US Composting Council Seal of Testing Assurance testing, review this list.

If you are looking to open a commercial composting facility, you are encouraged to start small and expand slowly. DWM offers a demonstration approval for Type 2 and 3 facilities (mainly for operations looking to process animal manure and food waste), good for 12 months, with the ability to extend it for another 12 months. This will allow the system to be tested and you can learn how to run the operation.  The DWM website has more information on this process and below is useful information that can help you create the demonstration application. Lastly, please review this draft document on Composting Facilities Stormwater BMPs to design your facility in way that minimizes stormwater runoff.

You are also encouraged to participate in professional development workshops such as the Compost Operations Training Course offered by the U.S. Composting Council in partnership with the N.C. Composting Council. It is typically offered in the Fall at NCSU. Visit their website for more information.

Recycling Markets Directory

Through the Recycling Markets Directory, you should be able to find processors of organic waste or generators of organic waste.


For questions, please contact a staff member.