Whilst a good number of local authorities do collect household food and garden waste for large-scale composting and digestion operations, composting at home has the added benefit of avoiding transport impacts and producing a soil improver output which can be used in resident’s gardens.

Key points
  • Home composting is beneficial because it helps to divert garden waste and some uncooked fruit and vegetable waste from disposal, reduces greenhouse gas emissions and provides gardeners with a self-made supply of compost/soil improver.
  • Home composting is simple to do.
  • The key to a successful local authority promoted home composting scheme is not just the supply of compost bins – promoting good composting behaviour is important too.

What is home composting?

Composting is natural process that decomposes kitchen and garden waste (both classed as ‘organic’ wastes) into a nutrient rich fertiliser/spoil improver for gardens.  It is a straightforward and inexpensive process which doesn’t take much time to manage.

The most popular home composting method for householders is home composting in an open-bottomed container.

Home compost bins can deal with softer garden waste, some (uncoated) paper and cardboard and some food waste e.g. fruit and vegetable peelings.  

Wormeriessmall digesters and bokashi deal solely with food waste.

If a resident is only composting their own garden or food waste, there are no waste licensing issues

How can I promote home composting?

Before embarking on a home composting campaign, especially if compost bins are being subsidised your local authority, it is worth estimating the impact on diversion rates your scheme will have.  It has been estimated a home composting bin can divert approximately 150 kg per household per year of organic waste.

WRAP’s advice for promoting good home composting behaviour is based around a Defra model known at the ‘4Es’.

Advice specifically about how to apply the 4Es model to home composting is contained with the WRAP ‘Promoting home composting’ information sheet.

Where can I point residents to for advice?

Further details regarding the composting process itself, aimed at householders, and what can and can’t be composted is available on the Recycle Now website including details on How to recycle food waste, How is food waste recycled? and How to set up home composting.