Home Composting is a great way to dispose of suitable compostable plastic in an environmentally responsible way. The first thing you need to do is make sure that the plastic you are disposing of is “Home Compostable”. Remember – not all compostable plastic can be disposed of at home – so look out for the “Eircycle Home Compostable” logo.

Home Compostable packaging can be disposed of in a composting bin or “Brown Bin” for collection by approved waste management providers or in a home compost heap or pen.

Home Composting can seem quite intimidating but in reality, establishing a compost heap, tray or bin is relatively straightforward:

Tutorial 7 Easy steps to composting

1 Choose your type of backyard compost bin

You can use either an open pile or a compost bin. Bins have the advantage of being neat, keeping animals out and preserving heat. You can purchase compost bins from a variety of garden and home stores, or you can build your own compost bin. The size and type of bin you purchase or build will depend on how much compostable material you generate.

2 Choose your composter location

You should choose a location which is flat, well-drained and sunny. Most importantly you should find a convenient location. If it is in the back of your yard will you be willing to trudge through the snow to get to it in the middle of winter?

3 Alternate layers

Start with a layer of course materials (like twigs) to allow for drainage and aeration. Cover this layer with leaves. Then simply alternate between layers of greens materials (nitrogen-rich material) and browns (carbon-rich material).

Greens

  • Green leaves

  • Garden waste

  • Flowers

  • Vegetables

  • Fruit Peels

  • Scraps

  • Coffee grounds

  • Tea leaves/bags

  • Egg shells

Browns

  • Evergreen needles

  • Dried leaves

  • Paper egg cartons

  • Paper towels/ napkins

  • Dried grass clippings

  • Shredded newsprint

  • Bark

  • Coffee filters

  • Straw

  • Sawdust (limited amt.)

  • Dryer/ Vacuum lint

  • Cardboard (cut into small pieces)

  • Dead house plants

  • Shredded brown paper bags

Don’t Compost

  • Invasive weeds gone to see

  • Meat/ Fish/ Bones

  • Fat/ Oil/ Grease

  • Dairy products

  • Cooked foods (attract animals)

  • Pet waste

  • Plastics

  • Metals

  • Glass

  • Toxic material

  • Charcoal

  • Chemical logs

4 Add kitchen and yard waste as they accumulate.

Collect your kitchen compostables in a container in your kitchen. Find a handy place to store this container container – on the counter, under the sink or in the freezer. When it is full, empty its contents into the compost bin.

Whenever you add food scraps or yard waste, be sure to top it with a layer of browns. If you do not add browns, your compost will be wet and break down more slowly. If possible, collect and store dry leaves in an old garbage in the fall so you can use them in your compost year round.

Depending on the type of compost bin or pile you have chosen there may be specific ways of adding and maintaining compost. Most of the composters you purchase come with instructions; follow these instructions for best results.

5 Continue to add layers until your bin is full

The bin contents/pile will shrink as it begins to decompose.

6 Maintain your compost bin

To get finished compost more quickly, check your compost bin and make sure the following conditions are met:

  • When you add fresh material, be sure to mix it in with the lower layers.
  • Materials should be as wet as a rung-out sponge. Add dry materials or water – whichever is needed – to reach this moisture level.
  • Mix or turn the compost once a week to help the breakdown process and eliminate odour.

7 Harvest your compost

Finished compost will be dark, crumbly and smell like earth. You should be able to have finished compost within four to six months of starting your bin.

The finished compost will end up at the top of the bin or compost pile. Remove all the finished compost from the bin, leaving unfinished materials in the bin to continue decomposing. Be sure the decomposition process is complete before you use your compost; otherwise, microbes in the compost could take nitrogen from the soil and harm plant growth.

Composting Do’s

  • Do mix a variety of other vegetable food scraps with grass clippings and leaves. Clippings tend to compact, which may inhibit the flow of air through the pile.

  • Do keep the pile damp, but never soggy.

  • If adding food scraps, be sure to bury deep within the compost pile to avoid attracting rodents.

Composting Don’ts

  • Don’t add fish, meat, dairy products, bones, fatty foods or grease to your compost pile. These food scraps do not easily decompose and may attract animals.

  • Don’t use diseased plants or plants that are toxic to other plants. Also, avoid weeds, which produce abundant seeds, because they may not be killed during the composting process.

  • Don’t add pet feces or used kitty litter. Although they may eventually break down in compost, they also harbour bacteria, germs, viruses and parasites.