Composting Facility at The Alpha Ridge Landfill

Public Meeting

There was a public meeting to discuss Phase II of the compost facility on Wednesday September 21, 2016 at 6:30 pm in the training trailer, near the Maintenance Shop. Attendees were given the opportunity to view the areas of construction and learn more about the upcoming projects. More details here.


Upcoming Tours

There are currently no scheduled tours. Contact Jeff Dannis at 410-313-6419 or jdannis@howardcountymd.gov.


Pilot Project

The Bureau of Environmental Services has constructed a pilot project to produce quality compost. This state of the art pilot project is located on a ¾ acre site at the Alpha Ridge Landfill and is designed to compost yard trim and food scraps in aerated, covered piles. The compostable material is from residents that are participating in Feed The Green Bin. This is supplemented by material directly hauled by residents and contractors to Alpha Ridge. The facility started accepting material from the pilot curbside program in March 2013.


We are working with State and County regulatory agencies and departments to ensure that the composting facility meets and exceeds environmental standards and expectations, and creates high quality compost. We have created a successful composting program that protects the environment and serves as a model for other local communities.


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Why is the County doing this project?

    The goal of this project is to compost yard trim and food scraps locally, saving on processing and transportation costs. Benefits include keeping the material local, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and creating a beneficial soil amendment which reduces the need for chemical fertilizers, reduces erosion, and increases water retention in soils. Currently, this is the only facility of its kind in Maryland. Check out our handy fact sheet for many more details.

What types of materials are composted?

    Materials include yard trim such as leaves, grass clippings and brush; food scraps such as fruits, vegetables and baked goods generated by County residents and collected by the County. For a complete list of accepted food scraps, please visit Feed The Green Bin.

Is HoCoGro “organic”?

    There is no national standard for “organic” compost. Our compost is manufactured / recycled from natural living materials and water, without the addition of any chemicals. The chemical properties of our compost vary slightly through the seasons as the inputs we receive vary. The properties of are compost are relatively consistent and are identified within the current laboratory analysis. [see link above] USDA’s National Organic Program (NOP) encourages the use of compost as a soil amendment to grow organic produce. NOP regulates organic produce and defines what produce can use the term “organic”. Inputs such as water, fertilizers, pesticides and compost are regulated by these rules, which dictate how they are made and from what, but do not specify any rules by which inputs may be called “organic.” Thus there is no national standard for “organic” compost. HoCoGro Compost is great to use to grow produce, organically or traditionally. We gladly work with organic farms and their certifiers to meet any of their documentation needs.

Is the product available for sale?

Compost Topsoil Blendmulch pile






         Compost                               Topsoil Blend                                 Mulch

Will this produce odors or attract pests?

    No. The windrows are covered, aerated, regularly mixed and properly managed and monitored. An adjacent biofilter is used to treat collected moist air. At similar facilities, pests and odors are not a problem because the collected food scrap is ground, mixed with yard trim, and immediately covered. The Phase II area will use the same technology and safe guards as the pilot facility.

What technology is being used?

    The County is using a process manufactured and designed by Engineered Compost Systems. The AC Composter Aerated Static Pile system is a proven technology in wide use throughout the West Coast. A computer-controlled blower keeps the material saturated with oxygen, which accelerates decomposition and manages moisture levels. The cover system retains heat and high-nutrient materials while managing potential odors.

Where is the pilot located?

What has been most challenging?

    Contaminates and moisture. The exclusion of plastic yard trim bags has created a huge improvement to compost quality and reduction in waste. Litter at the site has been reduced significantly. However, many residents continue to include plastic garden waste in their yard trim which doesn't break down and in turn ends up as compost contamination. From a processing issue, dry compost gives the false sense of being finished and stabilized, only to reactivate when given moisture. Moisture control will be easier with the improvements included in Phase II, which is soon to be constructed.


If you have additional questions, please contact Jeff Dannis at 410-313-6419 or jdannis@howardcountymd.gov