Food Waste Composting 101
Composting food has always been something that’s considered too much work, too inconvenient, too dirty. The reality is that it’s easier than it sounds, and something we should start doing at home. Anything worth doing needs a little effort from us anyway!
To help you out, here’s a quick guide to understand better and find the resources you need.
What is compost?
Compost is decayed organic matter. In most composting practices, this involves a mix of both food scraps and other organic matter such as leaves, twigs and paper.
You might be wondering why food waste going to landfill is so different from dealing with the waste via composting at home. Compost uses air to decompose aerobically. Landfill food waste decomposes anaerobically and emits methane, a greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change. Composting is a way to minimise those emissions, in addition to producing useful fertiliser for the garden. (Heck yeah, plant food!)
From Australia’s National Food Waste Baseline, a worrisome 34% of total food waste comes from households. In their report, it was found that a large proportion of household food waste was sent to landfill. Composting may not “return” food waste into the human food cycle, but it is the better w ay to dispose food waste than landfill. Thus, composting is an incredibly important solution to adopt at home.
What can be composted and how do I start?
Depending on the method used, the type of food scrap that can be composted differs. Four popular methods to compost food waste are:
In-Ground: This is the traditional way of composting food scraps, literally digging and dropping your food waste into garden soil. In addition, it also reduces the quantity of waste the municipal waste management has to deal with. Click here to learn about burying your food scraps.
Outdoor Bins: These are the common bins you’ve likely heard about. They involve setting up a dedicated bin outdoors to aerobically decompose food scraps, except for meat and dairy products. Have a look here for a step by step process.
Vermicomposting: Vermicomposting involves the use of good ol' worms to decompose food scraps. Worms eat up the plant food scraps and produce a humus-like material known as vermin-compost. Click here to read on about using worms to decompose home food scraps.
Bokashi Composting: This method involves using a Bokashi Bin and unlike other methods, allows for all types of food scraps to be decomposed. It is also made for the indoors. Unlike the other methods, it involves decomposing food scraps anaerobically and in a confined space. Despite that, it doesn’t contain the same microbes that produce methane and produces no greenhouse gases. After this process, the “pickled” food scraps are to be buried in soil. Here is a step by step tutorial on it.
Unable to start composting yourself?
Fortunately, there are several community level initiatives to collect food waste already. To find out if your city council has composting services(Victoria), click here! Otherwise, find community composting sites where you can donate your compost or food scraps.
Ultimately, reducing our food waste in the first place is best practice! But we can also do better for the waste that is unavoidable. Let’s take care of our planet, starting from our kitchen.