Recycling - composters
LATEST - Are you interested in the environment, wish to learn new skills and promote Waste Reduction and home composting. Then please read our information 'Zero Waste Volunteers Needed' within the link - The Zero Waste Scotland Volunteer Project (new window)
Home Composting is a simple way to turn your garden and kitchen waste into a useful soil enhancer for your garden, while at the same time reducing the volume of waste into you household bins.
As food waste is no longer suitable for collection within the brown bin, due to changes in legislation, home composting is an excellent alternative to stop food waste being sent to landfill.
Compost has many benefits for your garden, it contains organic matter which gives similar nutrients to fertilisers, due to the natural breakdown of kitchen and garden waste within the compost therefore providing plants, soil and turf with an effective natural feed. In addition, it has a unique composition, which allows the soil or turf to hold moisture for longer therefore requiring less water.
LATEST Please see the new documents below: Guide to composting at home.
'Zero Waste Volunteers- the Home Composting Experts - The Changeworks Zero Waste Project has recruited and trained volunteers from across Edinburgh and the Lothians. These volunteers promote waste reduction and home composting in their own communities by providing advice during home visits, attending events, as well as giving talks about home composting to community groups.
Home composting advice from a 'Master':If you would like to start home composting or are already composting and would like some local, FREE, friendly advice about how to improve the quality of your compost, contact Changeworks and we will put you in touch with your nearest volunteer.
Become a Zero Waste Volunteer:The Zero Waste Volunteer Project is looking for enthusiastic people to volunteer in the Edinburgh and Lothians area.
Volunteers will attend two training sessions before going back into their own communities to spread the zero waste message. This will be achieved through home visits, talks and workshops and by being a source of advice and support.
Contact: For more information about the project, be put in touch with a volunteer or for information about volunteering, please contact Changeworks on: 0131 555 4010 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
In order to get the best compost out of your bin, here's a list of the materials you can and cannot compost:
Kitchen waste -
- Fruit scraps and vegetable peelings
- Tea leaves/bags and coffee grounds
- Egg shells
- Paper items which can include scrunched up cardboard, egg boxes, toilet roll tubes, cereal boxes and paper towels
- Cooked food
- Meat, fish and dairy products
- Coal or coke ash ( a small amount of wood ash is okay)
- Cat or dog waste
- Nappies, glass, plastic or metal
- Cut flowers
- Garden and house plants
- Grass cuttings
- Young annual weeds
- Shredded twigs
- Hedge trimmings
- Straw and hay
- Wood chippings and sawdust
- Hamster or other bedding from vegetarian pets
- Weeds about to seed
- Diseased plants
- Large woody items
- Plants treated with pesticides
Frequently Asked Questions
Click a question to see the answer.
Potato peelings are always a discussion point. There are 2 schools of thought: one says do not put potato peelings or potatoes into the compost as you get potato plants growing next year with potential blight problems; the other side says that if you get potato plants, you can just pull them up. You choose what you want to do as both points of view are valid.
Because leaves take a long time to break down you should only add small amounts to your compost bin. Large quantities of leaves are best used for making leaf mould. Leaf mould can be applied in large amounts to improve soil structure or for making seed and potting mix. To make leaf mould simply place leaves in a separate compost bin or plastic sacks and water them if they are dry. If using plastic sacks, tie the sack shut and punch holes in the top. Your leaf mould will be ready in one or two years.
These are most likely to be fruit flies, indicating that there is too much green waste in your bin. Cover the waste with brown materials or a thin layer of soil. You could also leave the lid of the compost bin off for a day or two to allow fruit fly predators such as birds to enter and eat the flies. Do not spray with fly spray.
You should add green (wet) and brown (dry) materials to your compost. Green materials contain lots of nitrogen. They break down quickly and help to keep the compost moist. Brown materials contain lots of carbon. They break down more slowly and add structure to your compost. They also create air pockets which are important for air circulation. A good rule of thumb is to add the same amount of green and brown materials.
There are a number of different uses for your home compost. Mulch - a layer of compost can be applied to the surface of soil. This will add nutrients, helping to encourage plant growth. Soil Conditioner - mix compost into the soil to improve structure and add nutrients. Lawn Conditioner - mix an equal amount of sand and fine compost and spread over your lawn. Seed and potting mix - mix equal amounts of soil and compost. Experiment to find out the best proportions.
Waste from the brown bin is composted at West Lothian Recycling in Addiewell. The compost is used within the council for grounds maintenance or external forestry.Waste from the blue bin is sent to a local materials recycling facility. It is separated using a combination of automatic and manual methods before each separate material is baled and sent on for reprocessing into newspapers, and a variety of plastic and metal products.We aim to improve our service by expanding the range of materials we collect for recycling.
Brown materials contain lots of carbon. They break down more slowly and add structure to your compost. They also create air pockets which are important for air circulation. Examples of brown (dry) materials are: scrunched up paper and cardboard, hedge trimmings, straw and hay, wood chippings and sawdust, bedding from pet cages (as long as it is natural, rather than manmade fibres), twigs, feathers.
Green materials contain lots of nitrogen. They break down quickly and help to keep the compost moist. Examples of green materials that you can put into your compost are: raw fruit and vegetables, teabags and coffee grounds, egg shells, garden and house plants, grass cuttings, weeds, cut flowers.
You shouldn't put cooked food, dairy products, meat or fish into the compost as these can attract vermin. Processed food contains additives, particularly salt and preservatives, which may not degrade very well. Perennial weeds should be shredded or they may sprout. Some people advise against adding potatoes or potato peelings to your compost, as they have a tendency to grow and you may get blight. However, if potatoes grow, you could always pull them up.
Compost should not smell unpleasant or be slimy. If you find that your composter is too smelly or slimy, it may have too much green stuff in it and it may be that it lacks air. Mix in some scrunched-up newspaper, hedge trimmings or twigs. You can also aerate the compost by turning it with a garden fork, and adding a bit of earth or compost.
Up to a third of your household bin can be taken up with possible compostable material. Instead of sending this to landfill, give yourself more space in your bin and improve your garden soil by creating your own compost.