AbstractThe treatment and disposal of organic household and industrial waste is a global issue. Several environmental, social, and economic problems are associated with current waste management practices. Composting biowaste is a financially affordable and easy-to-use method, while compost, the final product, can improve various soil properties. In this study, composting was selected for the treatment and valorization of food waste and olive mill waste. About 750 kg of leftovers from the university restaurant were used as primary material together with a small amount (2%–4%) of olive mill waste to form three compost heaps: food waste (F), food/olive mill waste/leaves (FOL), and food waste/olive mill waste (FOS). Physicochemical properties such as temperature, oxygen content, pH, and C/N ratio were measured to evaluate the raw materials, the composting process, and the final product. In addition, the degree of stability and phytotoxicity of the composts were evaluated by static respiration tests (SRT) and germination tests. At the onset of the experiment, waste from the olive mill inhibited composting for several days, but then developed into a standard composting process. The final products of piles F, FOL, and FOS were evaluated as stable, with cumulative respiration index (CRI) values of 6.2, 9.9, and 6.7  O2/kg (dry weight), respectively, but also as phytotoxic due to the low germination index (GI), with values of 58%, 72%, and 68% corresponding to 80% chosen as the limit value. Nevertheless, the results of the germination tests indicate that the addition of olive mill waste in the composting of food waste can potentially improve seed germination, as shown by the higher GI values of FOL and FOS samples compared with the F sample, and consequently can improve the quality of the compost.

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