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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2000

Composting and storage of organic household waste with different litter amendments. I: carbon turnover

Eklind, Ylva; Kirchmann, Holger


Composting of source-separated organic household wastes is becoming a more common practice in several countries. Carbon decomposition dynamics during composting are important for an overall understanding of the process. We investigated over 590 days losses of organic C and decomposition of C constituents in artificial organic household waste mixed with six different litter amendments; straw, leaves, hardwood, softwood, paper and sphagnum peat. Litter addition was necessary to achieve an aerobic process. Samples were analysed for dry matter, ash, organic C, volatile fatty acids, and lignin, cellulose and hemicellulose fractions. Calculated by first-order kinetics, residual amounts of dry matter were 22-63% and of organic C 11-61%, and both amounts were highest in the peat mixture and lowest in the control without litter addition. Rate constants for dry matter and organic C decomposition were highest in the leaf mixture and lowest in the control. The initial lignin content in the mixtures was highly correlated (R(2) = 0.91) with the residual amount of organic C. A lag phase, of varying length, in lignin decomposition was present in some but not all cases. Cellulose decomposition was slower in leaf, hardwood and softwood mixtures than in paper and straw mixtures. The results showed that the characteristics of litter amendments greatly influence the composting process. (C) 2000 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.


carbon loss; litter amendments; cellulose; hemicellulose; lignin; volatile fatty acids; decomposition rate

Published in

Bioresource Technology
2000, volume: 74, number: 2, pages: 115-124

Authors' information

Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Soil Sciences
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Soil Sciences

UKÄ Subject classification

Soil Science
Agricultural Science

Publication Identifiers


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