By separating home yard wastes and turning them into compost, it is estimated that municipalities can reduce the amount of trash going to landfills by about 20%. While that is a significant reduction, it is expected that even more trash will have to be diverted from landfills in the future. Materials such as soiled food packaging, disposable diaper padding, food scraps, natural fiber rags, pieces of wood, and other organic materials could all be composted. To do this, municipalities may have to establish municipal solid waste (MSW) treatment facilities to separate the compostible materials from the harmful materials, such as discarded batteries, motor oil, asbestos, and many household chemicals.
The expression "older than dirt" certainly applies to compost. Nature has been producing compost for millions of years as part of the cycle of life and death on Earth. The first human use of animal manure, a raw form of compost, was in about 3,000 B.C. in Egypt when it was spread directly on the fields as a fertilizer. Later, manure was mixed with dirty stable straw and other refuse and allowed to sit in piles until it was needed. Rain kept the piles wet and aided the decomposition process, producing a rich compost.