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J&B Recycling Knowledge

An Introduction to Organic Waste Management & Composting

This week is International Compost Awareness Week, so it got us thinking more about organic waste management.

All Local Authorities provide recycling collections from households, in the main these cover paper, glass, tins… etc. But the collection of “organic waste” for recycling, such as food waste and garden waste, varies widely across the UK.

Composting is nature’s way of recycling organic waste, being environmentally responsible and cost-effective, so in an ideal world, all organic waste should be composted.

In Hull City and The East Riding of Yorkshire the two Local Authorities provide their residents with a bin to dispose of a mixture of food waste and garden waste only. J&B Bio, a joint venture between J&B Recycling Ltd and Biowise Ltd manage this waste which is processed at Biowise’s In Vessel Composting (IVC) facility near Hull.

Other councils may have two containers for separate collections food waste and for garden waste. Whereas some councils will only collect and process garden waste in addition to other recyclables and don’t collect food waste at all. Whilst others may operate a voluntary garden waste collection service which is charged extra which means that some households don’t engage with the recycling of organic waste via their council on any level.

In a lot cases this means garden waste and or food waste ends up in the general waste bin that goes to energy from waste or landfill depending on which part of the UK you live.

That said, we have noted recently that some councils are now working with suppliers to promote home-composting solutions for food waste. These do rely on people purchasing equipment themselves and the idea might not suit everyone, so it isn’t ideal, but we do welcome the move as a step in the right direction for achieving a more sustainable waste management process.

If your Local Authority doesn’t provide you with organic waste management solutions, then ask them, why not? If you do want to compost at home here are a few hints and tips.

Setting up a compost bin

  1. You will need to purchase a compost bin to keep in the garden and perhaps also a “food caddie” (or small pedal bin) to keep in the house for the veg peelings (see below).
  2. Place your compost bin in a sunny spot-on soil or cardboard.
  3. If your bin is on concrete, start with compost, soil, shredded paper or twigs to attract worms, slugs and other insects.

You're now ready to start composting!

What goes in a compost bin?

Greens: wet and soft waste items like raw vegetable peelings, raw fruit scraps, grass cuttings, weeds and old plants (not tree trunks and thick branches), coffee grounds, filter paper and tea bags.

If you put a lot grass cuttings in your compost bin then the contents will need turning regularly to aerate so that it can compost properly.

Browns: dry, hard things like eggshells, cardboard, vacuum cleaner contents, sawdust and the droppings from vegetarian pets.

The best compost is around a 50/50 mix of greens and browns.

What about other waste food?

You can still get rid of it by investing in a food waste digester such as a bokashi bin. These will break down the food that cannot be put directly into a normal compost bin, such as cooked and uncooked food scraps, into a free fertiliser for your garden. You can purchase bokashi bins and other types of digesters from a number of suppliers, such as Get Composting, who are currently working with some councils across the UK.

What about autumn leaves?

Leaves can be put in a compost bin but they can give the bin a bigger percentage of brown waste, reducing its effectiveness.

Make leaf mould instead

  1. Put leaves into a plastic bag, punch small holes in the side, and leave sealed for a minimum of twelve months.
  2. After one year the leaf mould will be mulch and is ready to use as a top layer of soil in your garden.
  3. The longer it is left, the better the compost.

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