Brown bins and composting food and garden waste at home


You must separate your household waste. In Ireland, you can recycle most household waste. You have to recycle organic material like food and garden waste separately from general household rubbish and other recyclable items.

Recycling food and garden (organic) waste reduces the amount of biodegradable waste sent to landfill. It also reduces the amount of household waste you put into landfill or general rubbish, so you will pay lower bin charges if you recycle your food and garden waste.

You should not use a macerator to dispose of food waste into the sewerage system or put food waste in the general waste collection.

How do I recycle food and garden waste?

You can recycle organic waste by putting it into a brown bin, making it into compost at home or bringing it to a civic amenity centre.

  1. Brown bins: Your waste collector must offer you a brown bin collection service (unless you live on an offshore island).
  2. Home composting: Make a compost heap in your garden or use a compost container. Some local authorities offer compost containers for sale at reduced rates.
  3. Civic amenity centres: You can also bring organic waste to many civic amenity centres to be composted. Find your civic amenity centre on this map and check if it accepts food and garden waste.

Brown bin collection

Bin collection services provide households with a brown bin to collect and recycle many types of organic waste. Your brown bin waste is sent for composting or anaerobic digestion within Ireland. Anaerobic digestion is when food and garden waste is turned into bio-gas, which can generate electricity.

Since 1 January 2024, your bin collection company must give you a brown bin and arrange to collect your brown bin. This applies to all households in Ireland, except households on offshore islands.

A period of time has been given to bin collection companies to arrange for the extension of their brown bin service to more households. Until then, you can contact your current waste collector and let them know you want a brown bin collection service. Check what waste providers are available in your local area.

What can go in the brown bin?

You can put all food waste except cooking oils into the brown bin. This even includes dairy products, eggs, raw and cooked meat, fish and bones.

You can also put food-soiled paper napkins, paper towels and pizza boxes into the brown bin with your household food waste.

Look out for the seedling logo on packaging and coffee cups. This symbol will look like a sprouting plant and means that the product is certified as compostable. This should be placed in a brown bin or brought to a civic amenity centre if they offer a composting service. It should never be placed in a green recycling bin.

Waste from your garden can also be put in the brown bin, for example grass clippings and leaves.

Check the food waste FAQs on

Some bin collection companies may need you to separate garden brown bin waste from food brown bin waste. Check with your bin collection company.

How regular is the brown bin collection?

If you ask for a brown bin collection, your bin collection company must collect your garden waste collection at least monthly from 1 March to 31 October each year. The bin collection company will be able to advise you of the schedule for food waste collection as well. Your brown bin collection service must also make you aware of its availability.

Your bin collection company will have more information on what to put in your brown bin, when it is collected and how much collection costs. Check what waste providers are available in your local area.

Do I have to use a brown bin?

You must separate your food and garden waste from other recycling waste and from general or landfill rubbish. Instead of a brown bin, you can use your food and garden waste to make compost at home or bring it to a civic amenity service.

Your bin collection company must keep a record of customers who don't use their brown bin collection; your local authority can access this. If you choose not to have your organic waste collected, you will have to write to your bin collector with details of how you manage your food waste. This page will be updated as more details become available.

Read more information about the expanded brown bin service on

What is home composting?

You can recycle organic material such as food scraps and garden waste yourself by composting in your garden. Microorganisms, including bacteria and fungi feed on organic waste and break it down into a dark crumbly mass called compost. Compost is rich in plant nutrients, and you can dig it into soil to improve your garden.

You can compost cooked or uncooked fruit and vegetable waste, coffee, tea, garden waste, eggshells, kitchen paper, light cardboard (for example, egg and cereal boxes) as well as other items.

You cannot compost meat, poultry, fish, grease, oil, evergreen shrubs, coal and ashes as well as other items.

Find a full list of waste you can and cannot compost from the Composting Association of Ireland.

Find more information on composting at home at

How to compost at home

Prepare your equipment

  • Get a garden shovel or fork for turning and removing the compost.
  • Check what composting system you should use (pdf).
  • If you are choosing a container, choose a size for your household. If you choose a composter with a base, it should have holes in it to allow worms to go in and moisture to drain out.

Decide where to put it

  • Set the composter on grass or earth so worms can get in from below
  • Place it not too far from the kitchen door – near enough to be convenient but far enough away to avoid smells.
  • Choose a sunny spot as warmth will speed up the composting process.
  • Raise it 1cm to 2 cm off the ground by putting a few flat stones under the base. This will stop the holes becoming blocked.

Tips for composting

  • Protect the compost from heavy rain. If the compost becomes waterlogged, it will stop decomposing.
  • You can add activators to your bin if you want to speed up the composting process, but they are not strictly necessary.
  • Start your compost in the spring, summer or autumn, as composting slows or stops in winter.

Read a Guide to Home Composting from the EPA (pdf.) and An Taisce's guide to composting at home (pdf).

More information

You can also find further information about organic waste disposal from the Environmental Services section of your local authority.

Find what waste providers are available in your local area.

Page edited: 3 January 2024