Abstract The dynamics of biologically meaningful soluble and polymeric carbon fractions and the combined relationships between physical, chemical and biological parameters during composting of lignocellulosic waste were evaluated. The first thermophilic stage is crucial in determining the further evolution of soluble and polymeric carbon fractions but the dynamics of carbon is still important at the maturation stage. Multivariate data analysis showed that not only are all parameters interrelated but also influence one another’s variability. To discern completion of bio-oxidative stage other parameters in addition to temperature should be measured. Evaluation of soluble organic carbon, microbial biomass carbon, pH and inorganic nitrogen can be of great use in detecting the composting stage. This study offers new insights into the mechanisms involved in the biodegradation of organic matter and help to prioritize the parameters that contribute at critical stages of the process.