Zero Waste Week 2019: Composting

Day two of Zero Waste Week and the focus for today is food waste. Why food waste and what does it have to do with the overall theme of climate change? Well Rachelle reports that ‘UK households produce 7.1 million tonnes of food waste per year…When food waste ends up in landfill, it breaks down to produce methane, a very dangerous greenhouse gas. In fact, if food waste was a country, it would be the third largest producer of greenhouse gases.’

When we moved from London to Cornwall 1 year ago we were surprised that food waste wasn’t recycled by the council, a service we were lucky to have in London. On moving we decided to invest in a compost system to deal with any unavoidable food scraps we were left with. Even though our food waste would end up at the Cornwall Energy Recovery Centre and not landfill we wanted to make use of this resource and turn our waste food into compost for the garden, if you’ve been to a garden centre you’ll know its tricky getting compost not in plastic bags!

We opted for a wormery, mainly because it sounded fun to look after some worms and we found a nice compact tray system from Original Organics that looked like it would be easy to use for two composting novices! The wormey was also made from recycled plastic so we were pleased with that too.

The system is fairly simple to use, to start we received our worms with some compost and we allowed our worms to settle in with a small amount of food waste. At the beginning you add small amounts of food waste to get them up to speed, the food waste is supposed to naturally decompose first and then the worms will get involved so you have to give them a bit of time! Once established a tiger wormery can cope with the average food waste output of a family of 4. You can put most food waste in the wormery as the worms will eat any dead and decaying matter, if adding meat scraps its best to bury and cover them so to avoid attracting flies and try to avoid adding too much onion and citrus as it tends to make the environment too acidic for the worms. Our wormery works on an easy tray system, once the bottom tray is full with waste we place a new tray on top and start filling that. The worms migrate up the system and by the time the third or fourth tray is full the first tray is ready for harvesting.

The main problem we have had during this past year is wetness. As you may have noticed it likes to rain in Cornwall and we’ve learnt that we have to keep an eye on our wormery around rainy periods to stop it getting water logged. Staying on top of draining the bottom tray that holds the liquid feed that is produced and also adding extra shredded paper and egg cartons to soak up any excess moisture are crucial care points! We have also noticed we do attract flies (mainly fruit) but they don’t cause any harm to the worms or to us so it hasn’t bothered us too much and they come and go with the seasons.

We would definitely recommend getting a compost system for your food waste so you can utilise this great source of goodness for your garden or potted plants. As well as wormerys you could also set up a garden compost system that can deal with both garden waste and food waste or a Bokashi Bin can work well. If you struggle with the idea of composting there is an excellent website called Share Waste where you can look for people who are willing to share their compost and take your food waste!

Happy Composting!

Composting Tips:

Cornwall Council

Eden Project

Zero Waste Week

Original Organics Wormery

For more about food waste from Zero Waste Week