Home composting

Composting our food scraps and garden waste produces a rich soil for our gardens and reduces the amount of waste we send to landfill. It’s one of the best things you can do to help the environment and fight climate change.

Composting can cut household waste going to landfill by around 40 per cent. Diverting food and garden waste from landfill means less harmful gas emission production, including methane which is 25 times stronger than carbon dioxide. Making compost at home is easier than you think. 

There is a range of composting systems and options to suit every space — including backyards, courtyards, balconies and even no outside space at all.

Closed/basic compost bin

Closed bins are the most common type of household compost bin. As the name suggests, these bins are covered, with a lid on top and often a hatch on one of the bottom sides to release the finished compost for use.
Accepts fruit, vegetable scraps and garden waste only — no meat, dairy products, bones and pet faeces.
Pros: Cheap to set up, easy to aerate, produces larger amounts of compost.
Cons: Prone to becoming too wet or dry. Challenging to keep rodents out. Needs more space.

Open bin

Open bins are closed off on three to four sides and open to the elements from above. They tend to be the cheapest and easiest form of composting system to create.
Accepts fruit, vegetable scraps and garden waste only — no meat, dairy products, bones and pet faeces.
Pros: Cheap to set up, easy to aerate, produces larger amounts of compost.
Cons: Prone to becoming too wet or dry, difficult to keep rodents out and needs more space.

Tumblers

Tumblers come in many shapes and sizes but are often enclosed units housed on a frame and manually rotated to help accelerate the composting process.
Accepts fruit and vegetable scraps, garden waste, meat and fish.
Pros: Rodent proof, composting process is faster, easily aerated.
Cons: Can be difficult to turn when it’s full and more expensive to set up.

Green cone

The Green Cone is partially dug into the soil. It uses heat and light to speed up the composting process. The food waste is absorbed into the surrounding soil as it breaks down.
Accepts fruit and vegetable scraps, meat, bones, bread, citrus and small amounts of pet faeces.
Pros: Accepts many forms of waste. Doesn’t require emptying. Rodent proof.
Cons: Doesn’t produce compost that can be transferred to garden beds. More expensive to set up. Not suitable for bulk garden waste and must be in a sunny position.

Aerobin

Aerobins are a large plastic sealed bin with an aeration core to promote the breakdown of organic matter. The compost is accessed through a lower side door.
Accepts fruit and vegetable scraps, coffee grounds, garden waste, cheese and meat.
Pros: No turning required. Rodent proof.
Cons: More expensive to set up. Can’t compost bulky items. Requires continuous feeding to keep system working correctly.

 Classic multi-tray worm farms

Multi-tray worm farms are available from most nurseries and hardware stores and produce two types of compost – worm castings that can form part of your soil or worm tea which is liquid fertiliser that can be applied directly to plants. These types of worm farms use nesting trays that are stacked as a vertical tower of between five and eight trays. Once the bottom tray is filled with castings, another tray is prepared with bedding and food, which is stacked above it. The worms figure out where the food is and they migrate up to the new tray where the process of creating castings starts over.
Accepts fruit and vegetable scraps, tea bags, coffee grounds, egg shells and small amounts of bread, paper and cardboard.
Pros: produces rich fertiliser that can be harvested easily, compact, pest proof.
Cons: requires shade. Taps can sometimes block. Needs regular feeding.

DIY worm farm

You can make a worm farm out of polystyrene boxes and old bathtubs and fridges. It has the same design principle as the store-bought multi-tray system and instructions and examples can be found on the internet.
Accepts fruit and vegetable scraps, tea bags, coffee grounds, egg shells and small amounts of bread, paper and cardboard.
Pros: low-cost to set up, uses recycled materials, compact.
Cons: shorter life span, no tap to harvest worm tea, not rodent proof.

Bokashi bins

Bokashi bins are a convenient and hygienic way to compost in your kitchen. Bokashi is the microorganism that turns a broader range of materials into a nutritious liquid fertiliser for your garden. Bokashi bins require the starter microbe mix ongoing to keep it working to break down the food and keep odours at bay. 

Electrical composting systems

There are new composting systems available that require electricity and are the size of a small bar fridge. Examples include the CLO’ey composter and Smart Cara. For example, CLO’ey uses heat, agitation and airflow to assist the naturally occurring microbes in the starter material compost the organic waste. The unit can process up to 4kg of food waste per day. The CLO’ey composter can be used indoors but requires venting outside.
Accepts fruit and vegetable scraps, cheese, meat, fish and bones.
Pros: Compact. Can compost a variety of materials. Rodent proof. Easy to empty.
Cons: Costly to set up and run as it requires electricity. Must be vented if used inside. Doesn’t compost garden waste.

Community composting options

If you are short on space or spare time to dedicate to home composting, join a community garden. At community gardens, volunteers may have the opportunity to be involved in all aspects of gardening, including composting.

Caulfield South Community Garden
Website: www.csch.org.au/community-garden.html
Email: garden@csch.org.au
Rear of Caulfield South Community House, 450 Kooyong Road, Caulfield South

Murrumbeena Community Garden
Email murrumbeenagarden@bigpond.com
117 Murrumbeena Roadd, Murrumbeena VIC 3163
(rear of the Koornang (Murrumbeena) Uniting Church

Sharewaste
Sharewaste is a free website connects people who wish to donate their food scraps to their neighbours who are already composting and willing to accept more organic waste.
Website: https://sharewaste.com/

Fact sheets and resources

My Green Garden
Presentation successful composting(PDF, 7MB)
Worm farms, bokashi bins and composting tips(PDF, 3MB)
Solving common compost problems(DOCX, 139KB)
Making good compost(DOCX, 113KB)

Food scrap recycling service in Glen Eira

From 1 May 2018, food scraps belong in the green waste bin. This is turned into compost at large scale facilities and used on farms.  For further information on food scrap recycling in Glen Eira, visit our Food waste webpage.

Council’s free garden mulch

Glen Eira residents can collect free mulch from the bay at Glen Huntly Park car park off Neerim Road. Melway Ref: 68 E3 (near the corner of Booran and Neerim Roads).

For more information go to our Free Mulch web page