Example of managing odour in a composting business

We developed this work-based example to help you understand how to apply the four-step risk management process. Use it as a guide only. Managing hazards and risks in your own business may require considerably more detail. You might also need to engage a suitably qualified person for advice.

How Judith deals with odour in her composting business

Judith owns a composting business that receives and processes organic waste to make compost. As odour is a known hazard in the industry, she understands it can cause nausea and headaches, and can impact wellbeing.

Judith composts green waste, but also takes kerbside food and organics waste. Organic waste, particularly food waste, produces odour. Judith receives this waste in a building with sealed openings – automated doors that open and close quickly – and extraction fans. The fans channel smelly air to biofilters.

Judith’s business removes litter and other non-organic materials when they receive the waste, then shred it to begin the composting process. This is done in bunkers with an aeration system.

Judith’s staff follow a process to manage odours. This includes covering outdoor compost piles with a thin layer of mature compost, which acts as a mini-biofilter and helps absorb odour. They also lay the piles out with enough distance between them to allow access in case of fire.

The mature compost is now more odour neutral. They screen it outdoors before loading or packaging it onto trucks for transportation.

Staff members conduct regular inspections for odour at various times of the day and record this in a register. Judith also uses community feedback to help measure the effectiveness of their controls. She keeps a log of complaints and alongside each complaint records wind direction, temperature, time of day, and what was being processed.

Judith will consider putting additional or alternative odour controls in place if existing odour controls are not working as intended.


Read next

About managing odour hazards and risks

What you can do to prevent harm from odour

Respond to an odour incident or complaint

Read more about odour

About odour

Odour and the law

Describing what odour smells like

Odour and EPA’s role

Reviewed 2 October 2020