Composting food waste

Food wasteResearch by WRAP (Waste and Resources Action Programme) shows that in the world about one third of food produced is lost or wasted, most of which could have been eaten.

Sending food waste to landfill is not only wasteful and expensive, but also produces emissions of methane as anaerobic bacteria break down the compressed waste. Methane is a potent greenhouse gas which, molecule for molecule over a century, traps 30 times more of the sun’s heat in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide.

EU regulations mean that the amount of biodegradable waste going to landfill is reducing, and many local councils now have green waste recycling schemes. This is an excellent solution, although you can’t dispose of any leftover meat, fish or cooked food waste this way, so those items still have to go to landfill.

If you have a garden a better way is to compost all your kitchen waste at home, producing rich fertile compost for the garden.

Home composting has always been a good way of recycling uncooked kitchen waste such as vegetable peelings, tea bags and coffee grounds, but there is a problem dealing with meat and fish, dairy products and leftover cooked food. If you mix this waste in with your ordinary compost it smells and attracts flies and rats, so it needs to be composted in a different way. There are several systems for doing this.

Food waste digesters

These are the simplest way to recycle all food waste, cooked or uncooked. There are three main types of digester, the Green Cone, the Green Johanna, and the Hotbin, all of which use natural processes to break the food down without producing methane.

See Food Waste Digesters for more detailed info.


Worms are very effective and hygienic composters, and a wormery will compost most types of leftover food scraps, producing especially rich compost and concentrated liquid fertiliser.

These are really good efficient systems, although not everyone is happy dealing with worms.

For more information see our page on Worm composting,

Bokashi bins

This is a two step system in which the waste is firstly fermented in airtight bins and then composted, so it works along with a normal composting system, speeding up the process and turning leftover meat, fish, bread, etc into nutrient rich compost without creating smells or attracting  flies or vermin.  The food waste is mixed with a culture of friendly micro organisms then fermented for two weeks. It is then added to an ordinary compost bin or wormery or buried in the garden to complete the composting process.

See Bokashi composting for more information on using this system .

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