Compost bin

All you need to know about turning your food scraps and garden waste into nutrient-rich compost – it’s simple, affordable climate action in your own backyard.

How a compost bin works

Compost bins create an environment in which microorganisms such as bacteria break down food and garden waste into nutritious soil.

To get started, watch this composting for beginners video:

Setting up a compost bin

They can be purchased or you can make your own – watch our video on how to build a compost bin from pallets:

Required space

A compost bin is recommended for households with at least a couple of metres of outdoor space, and is ideal for a garden or lawn area. Place it on a flat area of grass or earth. It works best in a spot with full or partial sun.

How to predator proof your system

Whether you buy a compost bin or make your own, it's important to ensure your bin is predator proof by covering the bottom of the bin with galvanised wire mesh (holes no larger than 1.25cm) so mice and rats can’t get through. On Predator Free NZ website you can find some simple steps to rat proof your compost bin.

What you can put in

  • Chopped fruit and vegetable scraps
  • Egg shells
  • Grass clippings
  • Indoor cut flowers
  • Leftovers (that don’t have too much meat or dairy)
  • Bread and baking products
  • Pasta
  • Rice
  • Nuts
  • Cereals
  • Coffee grounds
  • Tea leaves
  • Plastic-free teabags
  • Garden trimmings
  • Dried leaves
  • Cut-up cardboard
  • Paper paper towels
  • Tissue
  • Poo from herbivorous animals (such as rabbits and guinea pigs)
  • Wooden utensils (such as chopsticks, cutlery and skewers)
  • Wood shavings (untreated). 

What you can’t put in

  • Oil and other liquids
  • Foods containing lots of dairy or meat
  • Rubbish
  • Poo from dogs and and cats
  • Noxious weeds.

What you can do with the finished product

You can use compost on garden beds, around trees, and as mulch. Compost makes soil healthier, and helps reduce carbon emissions.

Guides

If you want to learn more about composting, download these guides:

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

What can and can't go in your compost bin – reference guide (310KB JPG)

Contact us

If you have a question about composting you can email us at waste.education@wcc.govt.nz