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What is composting?

Composting is the decomposition of organic material. Over one third of waste is compostable. Composting is easy and fun. It reduces waste and returns nutrients to the soil.

Why compost?

  • Composting is an easy and practical way to help reduce the amount of household waste that is currently disposed of at landfill facilities
  • A third of all household waste is organic and could be composted cleanly and cheaply in the back garden
  • Compost provides a rich soil enhancer for use in the garden and improves plant yield
  • Composting saves you money on buying compost from the garden centre
  • Composting protects the environment by reducing the demand for peat based compost

Where should I put my composter?

When deciding where to place the bin, there are a few guidelines to remember:-

  • Place the bin on grass or earth
    This allows worms to enter the bin from underneath – worms help to keep air circulating through the material and plenty of air is needed to speed up the composting process and to avoid odours. Also, as the material decomposes, moisture seeps out and you’ll need to allow this liquid to soak into your grass or earth. The bins with bases have holes to allow for worm entry, and should be raised slightly off the ground, 1 – 2 cm. This can be achieved by placing a few flat stones under the base. The bins with bases are raised slightly to prevent the holes becoming blocked, which would prevent worm and oxygen entry.
  • Distance from the house
    Place the bin not too far from your kitchen door, so it is easily accessed, but far enough to allow bacteria, fungi, worms and beetles to work in peace.
  • Place the bin in a sunny spot
    The dark colour of the bin will absorb the sunrays, without risk of drying out the material in the bin.
  • Protect it from heavy rain
    Heavy rain may waterlog the bin, which will starve the bin of air and prevent composting. Once you’ve chosen your location, loosen the soil in order to help drainage and make it easier for the worms and bacteria to pass into the bin from the surrounding earth. Put the bin in place (on its base if supplied) It is best to start a compost bin in the spring, summer or autumn, as the decomposition process slows or stops in winter.

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What should I put in the bin?

Anything organic - that is anything that was once living, whether animal or vegetable can be composted but some materials are more appropriate than others for home composting. Organic material falls into two categories: “Green” & “Brown”. “Green” or “Nitrogen Rich” organic material is wet and often green like grass clippings or fruit and vegetables.“Brown” or “Carbon Rich” organic material is dry, woody material that is usually brown, such as fallen leaves, and tree-cuttings. The following list of materials can be composted at home. It has been separated into “Green”and “Brown” for simple identification.


  • Coffee grounds
  • Tea leaves and tea bags
  • Fruit and vegetable waste (cooked or uncooked) roots, cores, etc.
  • Bread, pasta and rice
  • Cut and dead flowers
  • Manure from any vegetarian pets (good activator) #
  • Weeds (avoid weed seeds)
  • Old plants (not diseased)
  • Seaweed or garden pond cleanings (good activator) #

# Activators are the primary food of the organisms and help to establish the bin or speed up the process.


  • Egg shells
  • Kitchen paper
  • Newspaper
  • Papers and light cardboard e.g. cereal or shoe boxes (crumpled) *
  • Pet hairs and human hairs
  • Wood/peat/peat ashes (no coal ashes)
  • Tree prunings and woody material (chopped)
  • Hay and straw
  • Sawdust or wood shaving

* Newspapers, cardboard and paper can be added in small crumpled amounts but it is better to recycle them if you can.

What should I not put in the bin?

Some organic materials are not suitable for home composting. The following is a list of materials that should not be composted at home and the reasons for their exclusions.

  • Meat and fish scraps – attracts pests
  • Grease and oil – slow to decompose and attracts pests
  • Cat litter and cat or dog faeces – temperature of the bin too low to kill pathogens (diseased cells)
  • Glossy papers or magazines – plastic coating will not compost
  • Barbecue and coal ashes – coals have been chemically treated and will chemically contaminate your compost
  • Large woody material – slow to compost
  • Evergreen shrubs – too acidic
  • Disposable nappies or septic tank sludge - temperature of the bin too low to kill pathogens (diseased cells)

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How and where can I purchase a composter from the council?

Clare County Council has home composters available at the following locations at a cost of €50.00 each.

See Stop Food Waste website for more details on home composting or further information can be obtained by contacting Environment Section on (065) 6846331.

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Content Last Updated/Reviewed: 20/01/17