Does composting reduce the amount of greenhouse gasses released compared to landfill?
All organic material has the potential to rot. However this process requires a good supply of oxygen to support the organisms responsible for the process of decomposition. This is called aerobic decomposition. When fresh organic material is added to landfill, it quickly begins to decompose. It doesn't take long before the organisms responsible for this become deprived of air, as more and more material is heaped on top of it in the landfill site. As all the oxygen around that material becomes spent, the good organisms begin to die and a different set of organisms take over; ones which do not require oxygen, but which give off by-products from their activity, which include carbon dioxide and methane. This is called anaerobic decomposition.
Carbon dioxide and methane are greenhouse gases which can be avoided by correct composting of organic material. By adding equal amounts of 'brown' (crumpled up cardboard, shredded paper, screwed up newspaper, etc.) to a compost bin in layers or mixing it in with 'greens' ( vegetable peelings, grass clippings, etc.) you are encouraging aerobic decomposition, as the 'browns' provide structure within a compost heap, helping to open up air pockets within the material. When aerobic bacteria are at work, you should notice that your compost bin feels warm. Mixing or turning the heap every few weeks will further encourage these aerobic bacteria, helping to speed up the rate of decomposition leading to quicker compost