As I understand it, the bulk compost made by one of our local businesses is produced by using heavy machinery to regularly scoop up and turn the source material and keep it active.

How much fossil fuel tends to be used by the machinery in such an operation to produce, say, 1kg of compost? It would also be helpful to know the scale of the operation (eg in kg/yr output or input) for any particular measurement, as there may be strong economies of scale.

I know there will be a higher environmental impact than just the fuel used, but let's just look at the fuel use aspect for this question.

Related question: Compost yourself or let the city handle the organic waste?

1 Answer 1


A life cycle assessment of windrow composting systems (pdf here) shows that fuel consumption by machinery to transport and process compost, next to energy consumption, indeed seems to be the main impact factor.

In this study 0.005 litre of fuel (diesel) are being used to process¹ one kg of compost. The scale of operations seems to be large with machinery used for turning the compost being able to process around 130 tons per hour.

¹ shredding, turning and screening of compost; not included are transport and initial spreading (around 0.011 litre / kg compost if all included)

  • the website is disabled
    – mart
    Commented Dec 12, 2013 at 8:50
  • @mart I still get to the pdf. Can you check again?
    – Stockfisch
    Commented Dec 20, 2013 at 0:32

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