Home composting is an easy way to reduce household waste and produce compost for free.

You may be surprised at how much of your waste can be composted at home. Fruit and vegetable peelings, crushed eggshells, paper, card and garden waste are all compostable.

Why compost at home

More than 60 per cent of the contents of the average rubbish bin is biodegradable and over a third can be easily composted at home. This includes fruit and vegetable peelings, garden waste, tea bags, coffee grounds, cardboard and paper.

If biodegradable waste is sent to landfill, it rots down and creates methane, a powerful greenhouse gas more damaging than carbon dioxide. In the UK, 20 per cent of methane production comes from landfill.

Reducing biodegradable waste going to landfill will lower the amount of methane produced and decrease damage to the environment. Composting your own waste at home means less is taken to landfill, lowering pollution from vehicles transporting waste.

Purchase a low-cost compost bin

North Yorkshire County Council and the City of York Council are working in partnership to supply residents with low-cost compost bins. There are two sizes of bins available to purchase at subsidised prices:

Size Cost
220 litre compost bin £8 + delivery
330 litre compost bin £10 + delivery

There is also a buy one get one half price offer on the already discounted compost bins which means North Yorkshire residents can team up with a family member, friend or neighbour to get a compost bin for as little as £6 each. Delivery is £5.99 per order. For more information and to purchase a compost bin, please visit www.getcomposting.com.

The bins are made in the UK from 100 per cent recycled plastic, have a windproof secure push-fit lid and removable side hatch, are carbon footprint certified by the Carbon Trust and are guaranteed for 15 years.

To learn more about other methods of composting, see the alternative composting systems section below for more information. Products such as caddies, wormeries, hot bins and kitchen composters can also be purchased at www.getcomposting.com or other retailers.

More information

Getting free, good quality compost from your bin is easy. You just need to put the right combination of ingredients in, almost like a recipe. Compost bins need a 50:50 mix of green and brown waste.

Green waste is nitrogen rich, is quick to rot and provides your compost with moisture.

Brown waste is carbon rich, is slower to rot, provides fibre and creates air pockets in the mixture.

Green: 50% Brown: 50%
Vegetable peelings Crushed eggshells
Salad leaves and fruit scraps Egg and cereal boxes
Tea bags Scrunched up cardboard and paper
Grass cuttings and old flowers Toilet roll tubes
Coffee grounds and filters Garden prunings
Young annual weeds Vaccum bag contents
Nettles and comfrey Shredded paper and documents

Placing your compost bin in direct or partial sunlight will help maintain higher temperatures inside and can speed up the composting process. To make sure you introduce air when adding materials to the mix, scrunch up cardboard and paper and add in twiggy materials from your garden. Cardboard egg boxes are an easy way to add air to your bin. This will reduce the need for regular turning.

Insulating the compost bin in winter with materials such as carpet or bubble wrap can help the composting process continue to work throughout the colder months.

Our volunteer team of composters, called the North Yorkshire Rotters, can give you information and advice on how to compost. The Rotters attend numerous events across the county and deliver talks and demonstrations to local groups.

For advice, or to become a volunteer, phone 01609 797212 or email nyrotters@northyorks.gov.uk.

Normal compost bins can only take certain uncooked food waste and require space in a garden. However, there are other systems which may suit those who would like to compost all their food waste (including cooked food and meat) or who have limited outdoor space.

There are four composting systems that will take cooked food waste and meat scraps which could help eliminate food waste from your rubbish altogether. Wormeries can only take small amounts of cooked waste or meat, but they do come in a range of sizes which will can fit into whatever space you have.

To purchase any of the mentioned products please compare, shop around and conduct your own searches for the best products and prices for your individual needs.

Composting system Description
Green Johanna

The Green Johanna was developed to provide a successful way of composting both food and garden waste. The bin has a fixed rodent-proof base, an adjustable ventilation system and optional insulating jacket so composting can take place all year round. Green Johanna's work in the same way as a traditional compost bin where food waste is added and compost is produced. The design enables the contents of the bin to reach higher temperatures, speeding up the composting process. Unlike a traditional compost bin, you can include cooked and processed food, such as dairy products, fish, shellfish, meat, bones, bread, cheese and pasta.

Bokashi bin/kitchen composter

All food waste, including cooked and uncooked meat, fish, bones, dairy products, bread, pasta, fruit scraps and vegetable peelings, can be put into a bokashi bin. Food waste is added to a special caddy on a daily basis along with a handful of special bran containing friendly micro-organisms until it is full. It is then left to ferment for two weeks before being added to a compost bin or dug into the ground. Two caddies are used; whilst the first one is fermenting, the second one can be filled. The tap allows you to drain the liquid which can be used as a nutrient rich plant food.

Green Cone

A Green Cone is a specially designed digester for cooked and processed food waste. Micro-organisms and worms already present in the soil will break down the waste and convert it into water and carbon dioxide and a small amount of residue. Green Cones are easy to use but need to be dug into a sunny position in the garden. All food waste, including cooked and uncooked meat, fish, bones, bread, dairy products, vegetables, fruit, tea bags and eggshells, can be placed into the bin. It cannot accept garden waste.

Wormery

Composting worms digest foods such as fruit and vegetable peelings, tea bags, coffee grounds, crushed eggshells, a small amount of cooked food scraps, shredded paper and card. Composting worms digest food waste to produce a high quality, nutrient rich, textured compost. Another by-product of a wormery is a nutrient rich liquid which can be used as a plant food once diluted. Wormery systems are small, compact and useful for homes with small gardens or balconies.

After 9-12 months (in optimum conditions) you will have finished compost.

You can use your compost:

  • to enrich your borders by spreading a 5cm layer of compost over the existing soil, or digging the compost into the soil before planting;
  • on flowerbeds by digging a 10cm layer of compost into the soil before planting;
  • as mulch (compost which is not fully broken down) by adding a layer of about 5cm over your flowerbeds;
  • around trees by spreading a 5-10cm layer around the roots (not too close to the base of the tree);
  • to replenish pots by removing the top layer of existing soil and replacing with freshly made compost;
  • to feed your lawn by mixing with sand and spreading a thin layer of about 2.5cm over the lawn; and
  • to grow healthy herbs and vegetables by simply adding compost around the base of the plants.

During the colder winter months, activity in your bin will slow down dramatically. However, there are several ways you can extend the composting season:

  • Insulate your compost bin with reused materials such as cardboard, old fabric, an old duvet, polystyrene packaging or bubble wrap. The compost fauna's metabolism slows down as the temperature falls, so you can sustain ideal composting conditions for longer by insulating your bin.
  • Keep adding to your compost bin even when it seems like no compost activity is occurring. A balanced mix of green and brown ingredients will help maintain a favourable habitat for soil micro fauna and also add insulation to the top of your compost bin, retaining more heat.
  • Chop or shred all your compostable material as small as you can to increase the surface area the soil fauna can access and speed up the decomposition process.
  • Kick start your bin with a natural accelerator. Adding heat-generating nitrogen high ingredients such as rabbit or chicken droppings, nettle leaves, comfrey leaves / tea or (even) urine can speed up the process.
  • Air is essential for successful composting, but turning the pile in winter can lead to significant heat loss. Instead, try to add items which hold pockets of air to feed the bacteria such as toilet roll tubes, scrunched up newspaper and egg boxes. This will ensure a supply of oxygen without disturbing the heap.