Composting research at laboratory-scale is critical for the development of optimized full-scale plants. Discrepancies between processes at laboratory-scale and full-scale systems have been investigated in terms of heat balances, but a kinetic analysis of this issue is still missing. In this study, the composting rate at laboratory-scale was, on average, between 1.9 and 5.7 times faster than in full-scale systems for a set of published studies using municipal solid waste, food waste or similar materials. Laboratory-scale performance and full-scale systems were limited to 71 and 46%, respectively, of their maximum potential due to poor management of environmental process conditions far from their optimum. The main limiting environmental factor was found to be moisture content, followed by temperature. Besides environmental factors, waste composition and particle size were identified as factors accounting for kinetic differences between laboratory- and full-scale systems. Overall, this study identifies those factors that affect the kinetics of the composting process most and revealed a significant margin for reducing process time in full-scale composting.