Composting domestic waste
What is composting?
Composting is a natural way to recycle organic material such as kitchen scraps or garden waste. Microorganisms, including bacteria or fungi, feed on the 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.
The Irish Government is committed to reducing the amount of biodegradable waste sent to landfill. Recycling domestic organic waste to make compost is one way to reach this target. Composting also cuts down the amount of household waste you put in your other bins, so you pay lower charges for having them emptied. You should not use a macerator to dispose of food waste into the sewerage system, or put food waste in the general waste collection.
Options for composting
- Brown bins: In line with EU regulations, the Government supplies brown bins for composting to almost every household in Ireland. (The only exceptions are places so small or remote that it would not be practicable to collect brown bins separately from other bins.)
- Civic amenity centres: You can also bring organic waste to civic amenity centres to be composted. For details, contact your local authority.
- Home composting: You can have a compost heap in your garden or you can make or buy a compost container. You can buy containers from garden centres or hardware shops. Some local authorities offer them for sale at reduced rates.
See below for details on what you’ll need and how to get your home composting system going.
Composting at home
- Prepare your equipment:
-Choose a container that is the right size for your household. If you choose a bin with a base, it should have holes in it to allow worms to go in and moisture to drain out.
-You will also need a garden shovel or fork for turning and removing the compost.
- Decide where to put it:
-Set the bin on grass or earth so worms can get in from below.
-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.
-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.
-Protect the bin 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 bin in the spring, summer or autumn, as composting slows or stops in winter.
You can get information on what you can (and cannot) put into a compost bin from the Composting Association of Ireland.
You can also find further information about home composting from the Environmental Services section of your local authority.
For information on a range of environmental matters, see ENFO.