Environmental Chemistry Letters

, Volume 13, Issue 3, pp 223–238 | Cite as

Greenhouse gas emissions from organic waste composting

  • Antoni SánchezEmail author
  • Adriana Artola
  • Xavier Font
  • Teresa Gea
  • Raquel Barrena
  • David Gabriel
  • Miguel Ángel Sánchez-Monedero
  • Asunción Roig
  • María Luz Cayuela
  • Claudio Mondini


There is actually a common consensus in using biological technologies for the treatment of organic wastes. For instance, composting is used for aerobic biological stabilisation of organic wastes. The amount of materials and the variety of wastes composted are increasing. However, composting is inherently a process generating gaseous emissions. Greenhouse gases (GHG) such as carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide from compost are of special relevance for global warming. Although a part of these gases is inherent to the process, another important part can be abated by low-cost biological technologies such as biofiltration and its variations. This article reviews the emission of GHG from composting gases, from detection and measurement to minimisation and abatement. Special emphasis is given to the measurement of GHG to obtain reliable emission factors for the different composting technologies. These factors will help to compare different waste treatment options based on overall analysis tools such as life cycle assessment. A specific chapter is related to carbon and nitrogen dynamics in the composting matrix, and their consequences on the production of carbon and nitrogen gases. Finally, we present a review of the best available practices to minimise the GHG emissions from composting and the final treatment of composting off-gases.


Composting Anaerobic digestion Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Environmental Impact Life cycle assessment (LCA) Carbon dioxide Methane Nitrous oxide Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) Biofiltration 



The authors wish to thank the financial support of the Spanish Ministerio de Economía y Competitividad (Project CTM2012-33663-TECNO).


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Antoni Sánchez
    • 1
    Email author
  • Adriana Artola
    • 1
  • Xavier Font
    • 1
  • Teresa Gea
    • 1
  • Raquel Barrena
    • 1
  • David Gabriel
    • 1
  • Miguel Ángel Sánchez-Monedero
    • 2
  • Asunción Roig
    • 2
  • María Luz Cayuela
    • 2
  • Claudio Mondini
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Chemical EngineeringUniversitat Autònoma de BarcelonaCerdanyola del VallèsSpain
  2. 2.Centro de Edafología y Biología Aplicada del SeguraConsejo Superior de Investigaciones CientíficasEspinardoSpain
  3. 3.Consiglio per la Ricerca e la sperimentazione in Agricoltura, Centro di ricerca per lo studio delle relazioni tra pianta e suolo, Gruppo di ricerca di GoriziaCRA-RPSGoriziaItaly

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