Hartlepool Borough Council

Composting and water butts

How To Make Great Compost

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Whether you have a home compost bin, take your garden waste to the Household Waste Recycling Centre or are simply interested in learning more, read on to find out how to make great compost.

Please note: items such as vegetable peelings, fruit cores, newspaper and tea bags are great to add to your compost bin at home, however they should never be added to your brown bin. The process used for composting brown bin materials is different to home composting and the resulting compost needs to meet certain criteria. Food waste and other items affect the quality of the brown bin compost which is why we cannot take them.

  • Composting is a natural process and the oldest form of waste management. It converts natural, organic waste to a useful form that returns nutrients to the soil.
  • Anything that was once alive can be composted. This includes waste paper and card, hair and even the contents of a hoover bag. However, you should not add materials of animal origin, such as meat, dairy products, faeces from animals that eat meat and processed food to your compost bin.
  • Composting and de-composition will happen naturally but managing it and monitoring how the materials are mixed together can speed up the process.
  • You can compost at home, join a local composting scheme or take your garden waste to the Household Waste Recycling Centre to be composted on a farm. Wormeries can be used to compost kitchen waste and these can even live indoors.
  • Composting helps to protect the environment by reducing the demand for peat and artificial fertilisers. It reduces the amount of waste you have to dispose of and converts it into a valuable resource. This in turn reduces the greenhouse gas emissions and negative impacts of climate change, which occur when bio-degradable material is sent to landfill or burnt. By making compost you can save money by not having to buy it.
  • Material that is composting should not smell. By turning the pile regularly to ensure sufficient air gets in and ensuring that you include enough dry, or brown material, such as cardboard, paper or dry leaves you will minimise the risk of any odour and discourage any pests that may be attracted to the pile.
  • If your compost pile contains any sort of food waste then it is possible that pests, such as mice, foxes and rats may be attracted. This may be more apparent in the winter when animals look for food and shelter. To minimise this it is a good idea to use a plastic composter for this sort of waste, reducing the ability of animals to gain access to it. By regularly using the area where the composting material is you will discourage the animals.
  • By covering the fresh material that you add with some that has been there for a while, you will decrease the attraction of the pile to fruit flies.
  • Adding lots of material at once gets your compost off to a good start. The pile of material creates a perfect environment for microorganisms for a few weeks. They break the material into smaller pieces and create a lot of heat. When the material begins to cool worms and insects move into it and continue the decomposition. In around 6 months useable compost is produced.


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