Managing municipal solid waste (MSW) compost for agricultural use requires an understanding of waste stream components and how they affect the value of the finished product. We evaluated the influence of disposable diaper content in MSW compost because of the recent concern of the environmental impact of this product. To determine the potential effect of disposable diapers on MSW compost, the ‘normal’ concentration of soiled, disposable diapers in a waste stream was raised from 2 percent to 8 percent. Previous observations indicated that the diapers disassociated during in-vessel digestion and most of the components could not be distinguished from the primary compost. The objective of this study was to examine the effect of additional diapers on the agricultural value of mature MSW compost. Loamy sand and silt loam soils were amended with MSW compost at a rate of 20 percent. Comparisons between the two composts and their interactions with soil type were made on the basis of water retention characteristics; germination and emergence of corn, soybean, radish and lettuce; and yield and element uptake by corn and lettuce at two moisture regimes. Differences between the compost amended soils suggested that the primary benefits of additional diapers were increased nutrient availability and soil water retention, and the foremost concerns were excess total soluble salts and boron.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This study was funded by The Procter & Gamble Company, Cincinnati, OH. We wish to thank S.M.F. Cook, S.c. Gupta, P.R. Bloom and P. Barak for thoughtful discussions on this subject and comments on an earlier draft of this manuscript.