Top of the Pile: Wilmington’s state-of-the-art commercial composting center shows large-scale facilities work

story by liz pachecoWhen the Peninsula Compost Group first proposed building a composting center in Wilmington, DE., the neighboring community of Southbridge wasn’t very excited.

“Initially they were offended that we would even think of building a facility where there are already chemical plants, a sewer plant, and a landfill,” says Nelson Widell, co-founder and marketing and sales director at Peninsula.

The community’s initial apprehension is understandable. Peninsula was proposing a 27-acre, $20 million facility to handle 160,000 tons of food and yard waste annually. And the site is only 1,200 feet from homes.

So Peninsula met with residents and took a delegation from Southbridge to tour two of their 15 facilities in the U.S. They also signed a contract, guaranteeing community jobs in both construction and operation.
Today, eight of the 14 jobs at the facility are filled locally and in the two years since the Wilmington Organic Recycling Center opened, there hasn’t been one phone call to their 24-hour odor hotline.

The lack of odors is thanks to the sophisticated GORE cover composting system. Similar to the GORE-TEX clothing material, this system keeps water out, while allowing the compost to breathe. Carbon dioxide and water vapor are released, but the GORE cover keeps in odor molecules.

The Wilmington Organic Recycling Center’s technology, capacity and location have made the facility a welcome addition to the composting community. For Delaware, the center was a solution for their recent yard waste ban. And for nearby states, like Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York and Maryland, it’s an easily accessible and reliable option for organic waste that went to landfills.

Learn more about Peninsula, the Wilmington facility, and their composting process at peninsula-compost.com.