Why compost – diverting food waste from landfill
Did you know: organic food waste accounts for up to 50% of all household waste going to landﬁll?
When food waste breaks down in landfill it emits the greenhouse gases carbon dioxide and methane – a gas 21 times more potent than carbon dioxide. The amount of greenhouse gases produced by food waste in Australian landfill each year is equivalent to the emissions of Australia’s steel and iron ore industries combined. Source: RMIT University, Melbourne.
It makes sense to divert organic food waste from landfill by converting it into compost to be returned to the earth.
What is composting?
Composting is the process of decomposing organic waste so it can be reused as fertiliser for plants. Composting food scraps at home or using council collection services where they are available can:
• Reduce greenhouse gas emissions from landfill,
• Reduce leachate production in landfills,
• Reduce the amount of watering required in gardening and landscaping,
• Reduce synthetic fertilisers needed in horticulture and agriculture, and
• Improve the structure, fertility and health of soil.
How to compost at home
- Position the bin in a shady spot in direct contact with the soil.
- Bury the base to prevent rodents from getting in.
- Add sticks or dry, course material to the base to aerate the pile.
- Add 1 part ‘green matter’ – garden clippings and fruit/vegetable scraps, tea leaves, coffee grinds, etc.
- Add 2 parts ‘brown matter’ – dry leaves, mulch, cardboard like egg cartons, shredded paper, tissues, napkins, etc. to feed carbon into your compost and aerate the pile.
- Add water so it’s damp but not soggy.
- Use your nose as a guide – if it’s stinky you probably need to add more brown and if it doesn’t smell at all it’s probably too dry so add more water.
- Avoid meat, wheat and dairy to avoid attracting vermon.
- One it’s full, leave it and wait for 2 to 3 months and when the bigger pieces have broken down it’ll be ready to go.
- To speed up the process, use a garden fork to aerate the pile once a week or so.
- Add a handful of poultry manure or blood and bone sprinkled onto a dry layer to boost the nitrogen.
- Add a handful of lime once a month or so to combat the acidity created by decomposing scraps ~ the worms love it.
Some local councils around Australia offer subsidised compost bins to their residents, so ask your local council what they provide. You can also visit the compost revolution website for discounts on compost bins in your area.