Urban Composting Permit
Despite being home to some of the best private composting companies in the country, Philadelphia had a major roadblock when it came to expanding the industry. The state of Pennsylvania had no specific permit that would allow a smaller scale urban composting company to operate in a densely populated area. Basically, the state would impose the same regulations on a small commercial compost operation as they would a large landfill!
These regulations began to change in the mid 2010’s when suburban composters were able to successfully lobby for a new permitting structure that would allow commercial compost operations on farms.
This served as inspiration for a team headed up by Philadelphia’s former Zero Waste and Litter Cabinet, Philadelphia Parks and Recreation, Pennsylvania Recycling Markets Center, Philadelphia Department of Public Health and other partners to work with the PA Department of Environmental Protection to apply the suburban farm composting model for more urban sites. The team identified a vacated Parks and Recreation facility on Rising Sun Avenue to serve as the demonstration site and Philadelphia’s own Bennett Compost successfully bid for the RFP to serve as the demonstration composting operation.
After a few years and a lot of paperwork, in 2022 the state finally issued Bennett Compost Pennsylvania’s first urban composting permit, officially named General Permit WMGM017. We could not be more thrilled about this at Circular Philadelphia because we feel that a resilient, equitable and sustainable composting industry in Philly will rely on a collection of decentralized, independent composting businesses that can serve the many needs of Philadelphia’s residential, commercial and public sector.
Our vision is that this permit will lead the way for many more composting businesses to be founded in Philly by a diverse group of entrepreneurs and one day serve the entire city’s needs.
If you are an existing composting company who wants to ensure you have the right permitting, or an entrepreneur just getting started, download a copy of the permit here to review your requirements and needs so you can start planning.
Depending on what part of the state you are in, below is the contact info for your regional PA Department of Environmental Protection office. These public workers are there to help businesses like yours get through the permitting process. When getting in touch, please reference that you want to know more about General Permit WMGM017.
Follow these steps to set up an urban composting site in Philadelphia:
- Identify the piece of land you want to use. If you want to use public land, learn how Circular Philadelphia’s Vacant Land Team can help you.
- Download the PA Urban Composting Permit to make sure your identified piece of land fits with the permit requirements.
- Contact your local PA Department of Environmental Protection Office (see list at the bottom of the website) to start the permit process and ask questions.
Department of Environmental Protection Regional Offices
(and Counties Served)
I. Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery, Philadelphia.
Southeast Regional Office
2 East Main Street
Norristown, PA 19401
Phone: (484) 250 – 5900
II. Carbon, Lackawanna, Lehigh, Luzerne, Monroe, Northampton, Pike, Schuylkill, Susquehanna, Wayne, Wyoming.
Northeast Regional Office
2 Public Square
Wilkes-Barre, PA 18711-0790
Phone: (570) 826 – 2516
III. Adams, Bedford, Berks, Blair, Cumberland, Dauphin, Franklin, Fulton, Huntingdon, Juniata, Lancaster, Lebanon, Mifflin, Perry, York.
Southcentral Regional Office
909 Elmerton Avenue
Harrisburg, PA 17110-8200
Phone: (717) 705 – 4706
IV. Bradford, Cameron, Centre, Clearfield, Clinton, Columbia, Lycoming, Montour, Northumberland, Potter, Snyder, Sullivan, Tioga, Union.
Northcentral Regional Office
208 West 3rd Street – Suite 101
Williamsport, PA 17701
Phone: (570) 327 – 3653
V. Allegheny, Beaver, Cambria, Fayette, Greene, Somerset, Washington, Westmoreland.
Southwest Regional Office
400 Waterfront Drive
Pittsburgh, PA 15222-4745
Phone: (412) 442 – 4000
VI. Armstrong, Butler, Clarion, Crawford, Elk, Erie, Forest, Indiana, Jefferson, Lawrence, McKean, Mercer, Venango, Warren.
Northwest Regional Office
230 Chestnut Street
Meadville, PA 16335-3481