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Home composting

Organic household waste can be disposed of in your brown bin, or by using a home composter. 

Why compost?

Home composting reduces the amount of biodegradable waste going to landfill (up to 150kg of organic waste per year) while creating a useful product to benefit your garden.

How to compost

There are 3 main types of household waste that are biodegradable; kitchen, garden and paper/card, and 3 composting systems available:

  1. Composting bin/heap – the traditional method.
  2. Food waste digesters – specially designed units.
  3. Vermicomposting units (wormeries) – for indoor or outdoor use.

Build your own bin

Use wooden pallets to Build your own compost bin (PDF, 687kb).

Produce compost

To produce good compost, you need a 50/50 mix of both green and brown materials.

GREEN materials contain lots of nitrogen, break down quickly and help to keep the compost moist. For example:

  • fruit and vegetable peelings
  • grass cuttings
  • cut flowers
  • garden and house plants
  • tea leaves/bags and coffee grounds
  • young annual weeds

BROWN materials contain lots of carbon, break down more slowly, add structure and create air pockets, which are important for air circulation. For example:

  • shredded branches and twigs
  • hedge trimmings
  • paper (including scrunched cardboard, egg boxes, toilet roll tubes, shredded letters, unwanted mail)
  • straw and hay
  • contents of the vacuum cleaner
  • egg shells

The following items can't be put in a compost bin

  • cooked food
  • raw meat and fish (including bones)
  • diseased plants
  • coal or coke ash (small amounts of wood ash is ok)
  • cat or dog waste
  • nappies
  • glass
  • plastic
  • metal

Before you start composting


Sit your compost bin on the ground (on bare soil or grass) out of excessive sunlight and sheltered from the wind in an area that is accessible all year. 


Begin with a 15cm deep layer of brown material at the bottom of your bin.

Try to add a 50/50 mix of brown and green material.

Adding air speeds up the process, but if you have the correct mix of brown and green materials, it is not necessary. Add air by:

  • turning the compost with a garden fork
  • using an aerator stick
  • creating pockets by adding scrunched up paper and cardboard.
Compost too wet or dry?

Add more green materials if it is too dry. Add brown materials if it feels slimy or soggy.

How long does it take?

It usually takes between 6 and 18 months dependent on; the materials used, the time of year and how much air you get into it.

Is my compost ready?

Compost is ready when it is dark brown and crumbly with an 'earthy' smell.

Contact Physical Environment




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