Date of Award



Edward Van Buren


Greenhouse gas emissions and the loss of soil fertility worldwide are two important environmental issues that we are facing today as part of global climate change. As the human population continues to rise and harmful environmental practices persist, environmental degradation is sure to worsen. Landfills are a major source of the potent greenhouse gas, methane. The food waste we sent to landfills is the reason that landfills emit methane and carbon dioxide. Through poor soil management, soils are increasingly becoming degraded and unable to support plant life and the synthetic fertilizers used to enhance soils contribute to environmental issues. One solution—among many—to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions and improve soil fertility is diverting food waste from landfills and turning it into compost that we can apply to soils.

In this thesis I will support food waste composting and recommend steps toward improving regulation to promote composting throughout the United States. I will first examine data and information on food waste, landfill emissions, soil degradation, and the science behind the food decomposition processes. I will then explore how people have used composting throughout human history. I will then look at various composting systems designs that are used to make compost. Finally, I will look at the federal and state composting regulations and make comparisons. I will use these three disciplines and data to support my thesis of increasing food waste composting and support more stringent policy action for food waste composting on the federal and state levels.