5.B.1 - Biological Treatment of Waste: Composting

Short description

Within NFR category 5.B.1, ammonia (NH3) emissions from composting of organic wastes are reported.

Category Code Method AD EF
5.B.1 CS NS CS
Key Category SO₂ NOₓ NH₃ NMVOC CO BC Pb Hg Cd Diox PAH HCB TSP PM₁₀ PM₂ ₅
5.B.1 - - -/- - - - - - - - - - - - -

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T = key source by Trend L = key source by Level

D Default
RA Reference Approach
T1 Tier 1 / Simple Methodology *
T2 Tier 2*
T3 Tier 3 / Detailed Methodology *
CS Country Specific
M Model
* as described in the EMEP/CORINAIR Emission Inventory Guidebook - 2007, in the group specific chapters.
AD - Data Source for Activity Data
NS National Statistics
RS Regional Statistics
IS International Statistics
PS Plant Specific data
AS Associations, business organisations
Q specific questionnaires, surveys
EF - Emission Factors
D Default (EMEP Guidebook)
C Confidential
CS Country Specific
PS Plant Specific data


Separately collected organic waste (biowaste) from e.g. households, public garden and park service, food industry, restaurants, canteens and from agriculture can be treated in two different ways: aerobic treatment (composting) and anaerobic treatment (biogas production).

The aim of the treatment is the production of compost, leading to the recycling of nutrients and organic matter.

The produced compost is used as fertilizer or soil improver in agriculture or horticulture and also in private gardening.
In Germany about two thirds of the organic waste is treated in composting plants and ammonia (NH3) is an important emission to air.


Emissions from composting are not a key source and of minor priority.

Activity Data

Official statistical data (Statistisches Bundesamt, Fachserie 19, Reihe 1: Abfallentsorgung (Waste management), Table 2.1; 1)) are used for the estimation. The data are published on a yearly basis with an exception for the actual year of reporting. The activity data for the actual year of reporting are obtained, initially, by carrying the relevant data from the previous year forward, in unchanged form. In the following year, when the actual activity data for the given year becomes available, they replace the data that were carried forward. This procedure has only a very small impact on the total emissions in the relevant current report year.

Emission factors

The emission factors used for calculating NH3 emissions are based on emission data from a research project 2).


The AD from Statistisches Bundesamt have an uncertainty of ±2% whereas the uncertainty for the EF is -59/+130% (ibid.).


When preparing the current inventory data, statistical data are only available for the previous reporting year, as the Federal Statistical Office's waste statistics are one year behind schedule. The current reporting year must therefore be extrapolated on the basis of the previous year. The result of this approach is revised by the correct data in the following year. For this reason, annual recalculations are required for the previous year. Since the resulting recalculation is always extremely small, it is no longer reported here.

Planned improvements

Currently no improvements are planned.

Statistisches Bundesamt, Fachserie 19, Reihe 1: Abfallentsorgung; Wiesbaden; URL: https://www.destatis.de/DE/Publikationen/Thematisch/UmweltstatistischeErhebungen/Abfallwirtschaft/Abfallentsorgung.html
Carsten Cuhls, Birte Mähl, Joachim Clemens; gewitra Ingenieurgesellschaft für Wissenstransfer mbH: Ermittlung der Emissionssituation bei der Verwertung von Bioabfällen; https://www.umweltbundesamt.de/publikationen/ermittlung-der-emissionssituation-bei-der; im Auftrag des Umweltbundesamtes, April 2015