Hot Stuff!

Once, if you mentioned composting, it conjured up images of untidy piles of rotting vegetation, mouldering away in a hidden corner of the garden. But then councils introduced green waste collections and whisked it all away for industrial ‘hot’ composting at 55oC or above, which killed weed seeds and disease pathogens. You could achieve the same at home but it required a lot of effort, chopping everything to a similar size, mixing and turning it all frequently. So why bother, chuck it all in the green bin.

Now our council has announced in these economically stricken times that they will no longer collect green waste for free, we will have to pay an annual charge. Disposal at the local tip incurs no charge but we have to transport it there ourselves. So is it worth paying to have a green bin?

I now live on my own. I rarely fill my green bin. My new garden is small and open plan without space to easily incorporate a compost heap. The local tip is several miles away; it wouldn’t be sustainable or eco-friendly to take the waste to the tip.  So I decided to invest in a ‘hot bin’, which will stand next to the wheelie bins on the drive. The size of a wheelie bin, it would devour my kitchen waste, grass mowings and hedge clippings supplemented with cardboard or paper shreddings. Quicker and more efficient than previous old cold composting heaps; insulated it continues working come rain or shine (or snow) to produce crumbly compost (rotted matter) and rich leachate (liquor) for feeding plants.

UCL Plastic Waste Innovation Hub launched the ‘Big Compost Experiment’ last November; a nationwide citizen science research experiment to investigate the role and effectiveness of biodegradable and compostable packaging. Examining bio-degradable vs bio-plastics derived from starch, cellulose or lignin (wood). Quite confusing terminology as not all plastics are bio-degradable, nor are all biodegradable plastics plant based.

Do you have a compost heap – can you join in?


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