Composting is nature's way of recycling. It is a satisfying way to turn fruit, vegetable and garden trimmings into a dark, crumbly soil conditioner. Composting can:

  • Save you money by replacing shop-bought compost
  • Help your garden by improving the fertility of your soil
  • Save water by helping the soil hold moisture
  • Benefit the environment by recycling valuable organic resources and extending the life of our landfill sites

How to Compost

The most important ingredients in a compost heap or bin are Browns, Greens, Air & Water.

  • Browns are dry, dead materials such as prunings, twigs, fallen leaves, sawdust and shredded cardboard or newspaper
  • Greens are fresh materials such as grass cuttings, raw fruit and vegetable scraps, herbivore manures, tea bags, coffee grounds, pet hair and vacuum cleaner contents. (Even though some of these look brown, they're considered green)
  • Air can be added by using larger twigs and turning the heap regularly. The more you turn the heap, the quicker it breaks down
  • Water a heap as you add to it. it should be as damp as a wrung out sponge.

The Basic Steps

  • Every heap should have a good balance of greens and browns (roughly 50/50)
  • Chop materials to less than 6 inches
  • Keep an eye on the moisture content
  • Reduced Price Home Compost Bins and Wormeries

Torbay Council is working with Straight Plc to supply reduced priced compost bins to residents of Torbay.

  Buy composting bins and water butts Opens in a new window

Too much to compost

If you have too much for your own composter you can arrange for a one off special collection service to collect the excess in bags. There is a £6 charge for this service for up to 8 black bags and 50p for each additional bag. Alternatively you can bring it to the Household Waste and Recycling Centre (HWRC) (rather than putting it in residual waste) or take it to a garden waste collection points. For more information visit the Garden Waste page.

Community Composting

Thinking of starting up a Community Composting project? If so in order to get help from the council you will need to fulfil certain requirements:

  • Your project should be open to the public. People should either be able to bring materials to you, or you should be collecting materials from them. A regular system is vital. Most groups operate once a week or once a month.
  • You must have a suitable site, with enough space to stock- pile, process and compost. If you are going to be shredding think of the noise and the neighbours. There must be good access and room to turn vehicles, whether the ground is dry or wet.
  • You must site composting activities so that no pollution of watercourses could occur.
  • When you set up a composting operation with public access you must conform to certain legal requirements. You must either pay for a licence to compost or apply for an exemption certificate, Unless you are planning to process really enormous amounts of materials, (500 tonnes at a time) it's best to apply for an exemption certificate.
  • You must have a bona fide group. An individual cannot apply for funding etc. If you are not a member of a group, join one! Check out your local allotment, gardening or environmental groups. It's important to get people on your side, You will need plenty of help to get going and to keep running. Alternatively you could set up your own constitution, but this will take a lot of time and money.

However you plan to work your group you will need dedicated volunteers. Making compost is very rewarding, though not everyone's cup of tea and it's hard work at times.

Groups will be expected to report back to the co-ordinator twice a year to give a brief progress report. You will be asked to keep track of the tonnage, and the recycling credits claimed, as well as any thoughts or problems etc.

New and prospective groups are strongly advised to visit an existing scheme.

Still interested ? Then visit the Devon Community Composting Network or How To Compost websites for more information.