Learn about composting

Composting your food and garden waste helps to preserve and protect the environment.

Did you know that the average Wellington household disposes of 3.2kg of food waste per week? This adds up to 30,000 tonnes of food waste going to landfill per year, the same weight as 62 jumbo jets!

In a landfill, food waste is buried by other rubbish and crushed, which limits its exposure to sunlight, oxygen, and helpful microorganisms. As food waste breaks down without oxygen, it releases methane, a powerful greenhouse gas.

What is composting

Composting is an environmentally friendly alternative to landfilling organic material such as food and garden waste.

The benefits of composting include reducing the volume of waste sent to landfill, which can also save you money, reducing methane gas emissions, and making a valuable product for our taiao (the natural environment) which can improve soil health and help plants grow.

Choosing the right composting system 

There are lots of different composting systems available. The best one for your household will depend on your lifestyle, the amount of food waste you create, and available space.

Use the flowchart below to help choose the right system for you.

Options for composting at home

Compost bins

Compost bins create an environment in which microorganisms such as bacteria break down food and garden waste. To keep these microorganisms alive and productive, presence of sunlight, oxygen, and sufficient moisture are important.

A compost bin is a suitable option if you have a garden to set it up in, and to use the finished compost. They can be purchased or you can make your own – watch our video on how to build a compost bin from pallets. It’s important to ensure your bin is predator proof – on Predator Free NZ you can find some simple steps to rat proof your compost bin.

How to set up and maintain a compost bin (125KB PDF)

Worm bins/farms

Worm bins/farms are contained, productive systems where specific types of worms eat your food scraps. The worms need a cool space, sufficient moisture, darkness, and regular food to keep going.

A worm bin is a suitable option if you have a shady outdoor spot to site it; you don’t need a garden. The worm castings produced can be used in pot plants and gardens. They can be purchased or you can make your own by repurposing items such as old bins or a bathtub.

How to set up and maintain a worm farm (139KB PDF)

Bokashi systems

Bokashi systems use beneficial microorganisms to ferment your food scraps in the absence of oxygen. The fermented product is then buried in the ground or added to a compost bin to complete the process. This option is capable of taking the widest range of food items.

A bokashi system is a suitable option if you don’t have outdoor space. They can be purchased or you can make your own by repurposing airtight buckets.

How to set up and maintain a bokashi system (148KB PDF)

Composting alternatives in Wellington

If the above systems aren’t right for your living arrangements, there are organisations in Wellington who can help:

  • ShareWaste connects those wanting to donate food scraps and green waste with composters accepting them
  • Kaicycle provides a food scraps collection service to Wellington city centre and some central suburbs
  • Why Waste offers worm farm subscription services

Contact us

If you need help setting up your compost or have a question, ask our team. You can contact us at waste.education@wcc.govt.nz