Did you know that a third of the food produced across the world is wasted? A THIRD! What’s more, food waste that is sent to landfill won’t actually break down or decompose as many people believe it will. Buried under layers of rubbish, with little access to oxygen or light, food waste in landfill can not decompose properly. This also goes for anything that is marketed as ‘compostable’. These items will only actually ‘compost’ in the right environment, which is definitely not found in landfills.

As well as taking steps to reduce your food waste, composting is the most environmentally friendly way of dealing with food waste. Although councils offer green waste collections, the Royal Horticultural Society encourages home composting because it does not involve heavy transport, with its associated environmental costs.

There are many ways to compost in practice, you will just need to collectively research and decide which one will best suit your needs. For example; if you have a keen gardener in your team, it may be easier to send your waste home with them to compost in their own garden. If you are lucky enough to have an outdoor green space with your practice, you may find it suits your practice to have your own compost bin outside (you may need to ask permission from your landlord). Or why not try a worm bin? Whatever you decide, it will all go a long way to reducing the waste your practice sends to landfill.

What can you compost in practice?

  • Human food waste
  • Shredded paper
  • Pieces of paper or cardboard that are too small to recycle
  • ”Clean” paper towels (I.e. from drying hands)
  • Soiled cardboard packaging (E.g. greasy pizza box)
  • Compostable packaging
  • Grass clippings
  • Leaves and garden waste

What NOT to compost in practice

  • All used patient bedding*
  • Faeces
  • Used cat litter
  • Soiled paper towels
  • Anything else that is classed as ‘offensive’ or ‘hazardous’ waste

*When I asked the B.V.A whether it would be acceptable to compost unsoiled patient bedding (E.g. hay), the reply was;
”It wouldn’t be appropriate for staff to remove quantities of used bedding from the practice and it would be contingent on you to demonstrate that a risk assessment had been carried out for each item if the Environment Agency ever asked. It would be difficult to prove that used bedding was completely unsoiled.” 

Composting at home

Home composting is a little different as you generally have more freedom to add what you want without the limits of ‘offensive’ and ‘hazardous’ waste. I personally love to compost and find it no trouble at all. There is a small food waste bin kept in my kitchen for ease and a large compost bin in my garden. I love the idea that all this ‘waste’ is given back to the Earth and turned into something useful. Isn’t nature amazing?!

What’s in my home compost bin?

  • All food waste and scraps
  • Leaves, grass clippings and garden waste
  • Cut flowers
  • Biodegradable cat litter (not faeces)
  • Soiled (biodegradable) bedding, paper and cardboard from my hamster
  • Pieces of paper and cardboard that are too small to recycle
  • Soiled paper and cardboard packaging
  • Compostable packaging
  • Biodegradable dental floss
  • Biodegradable ear buds
  • Vacuum bag contents
  • Human and pet hair
  • Biodegradable cleaning products (E.g. Luffa sponge)
  • Anything else which is classed as ‘biodegradable’

If you are interested in introducing composting to your workplace or your home, I say go for it! Do some research and get stuck in, the planet will thank you and you will be one step closer to zero (landfill) waste!

PLEASE remember to keep all compost bins secure and away from pets to avoid compost ingestion/intoxication.