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School children learning what can and can't be composted

Composting Systems

The compost system that you decide to use will depend on the space that you have available for one and the types of materials that you would like to compost. It will also depend on the amount of time you have to spend maintaining and checking the compost. Find the best composting method/ system for your school using the tables below!


The Suffolk Waste Partnership is currently subsidising the prices of some composting systems, including each of the the food waste composting systems listed in the table below. Visit to find out about subidised composting bins.



All the compost systems in the table below can take garden waste and some other compostable materials (e.g. shredded paper, tea bags/ coffee grounds & fruit peelings):



Composting Systems

Create a Heap!




Even without compost bins organic material is naturally composting all around us e.g. fallen leaves in woodlands. You could just simply pile up your garden waste in a spare corner of the school grounds.

Easiest method of composting.

It's free, no bin required!

A large heap can heat up quicker than smaller compost bins, if the material is mixed well and turned regularly.

Doesn't look very tidy.

Offers no protection from vermin and other unwanted visitors.

Without a container material can blow away or become too wet as it is open to bad weather.

Cannot deal with cooked food waste, meat and dairy.


All-in-one moulded plastic compost bins



These bins come in a few shapes and sizes. The most common one is the 'Dalek-shaped' one. Most include a hatch at the bottom, and a lid.

They are cold composting systems and tend to produce compost in around 12 months. 

Usually fairly cheap to buy.

Long lasting.

No set-up required, just place and get started.

Easy to move around if needed.


Smaller capacity.

Hard to turn the compost and to get finished compost out (but not impossible).

Cannot deal with cooked food waste, meat and dairy.








Sectional Plastic Compost Bins

Made from hard wearing plastic and designed so you can fill and empty by opening up a whole side of the bin. Usually have a hinged lid.

These can be bought in larger sizes than the 'All-in-ones'.

Long lasting.

Easier to load and empty.

Lids provide rain protection.

More expensive than 'All-in-ones'.

Assembly required.

Cannot deal with cooked food waste, meat and dairy.


Wooden Compost Bins








These were tradionally used for garden and allotment composting but now the moulded plastic bins are more popular. Can be brought from garden suppliers or find out how to build you own here.

You can compost all your garden waste, tea bags, fruit peelings and shredded paper.

Can be bought or made to the size you need

Ideal for adding large amounts of material in one go because of size.

Construction is relatively easy and you can include insulation between slats if needed.


Looks more attractive as made from natural materials.

Assembly required.

Cannot deal with cooked food waste, meat and dairy.






Compost Tumblers








Designed to make turning easy and produce batches of compost relatively quickly. Ideally you should fill them in one go, with a good mix of green and brown material.

There are several designs available, some with turning handles and a range of fun tumblers aimed at children which are pushed along the ground to tumble.

Easier to add air and mix by tumbling.

Some designs are on frames off the ground so there is more protection from vermin.

Lid protects compost from the rain.

Assembly required.

More expensive.

When it is full you can't add any more material until compost is ready.

When full it will be hard for younger kids to turn.

If mix is too wet compost will not aerate properly.



All the compost systems in the table below can deal with some or all cooked food, meat and dairy products as well as garden and other compostable waste:



Composting Systems




Using a wormery is a fun way for speedily converting your kitchen waste into super-rich organic compost and liquid plant feed called 'worm tea'.

There are many shapes and sizes available to buy. Most are designed in stacking sections to make it easier to harvest the fininshed compost and have a tap for draining off the worm tea.

Can be used as an excellent educational tool in schools.

Worms make the most nutrient-rich compost. 

When diluted (by 10 parts water) worm tea from a wormery is an excellent liquid plant feed.

Can take most cooked food items including small amounts of meat.

Faster than cold composting, around 2 to 3 months to make a batch.

Can only take smaller quantities of plant waste and not woody material.

Commercially bought wormeries can't really deal with large amounts of food waste.

Certain acidic (e.g.citrus) foods should be avoided or only small quantities used.

Hot Bins



Hot Bins "hot composts" all year round to recycle all your food and garden waste faster. You can expect rich compost every 90 days without forking or tumbling. This bin can achieve hot composting at over 60 degrees, which is enough to kill off weed seeds.

To find out more about hot bins click here.

Can compost all garden waste and all cooked food waste.

It can produce compost as quickly as 30 days if the temperature is kept up.

The insulated design keeps heat and smells in.

Doesn't need regular turning.

Can be located anywhere in the garden.

Relatively expensive compared to other home compost bins.

Ideally needs an Ongoing supply of bulky garden material (e.g. wood chips or shredded hedge material) to create air channels.

Bokashi Bins





This system uses EM (Effective Micro-organisms) in bran to pre-treat cooked food waste in a kind of pickling process.

This process neutralises the waste after which it can be placed in any traditional compost bin or dug into the ground for nature to complete the job.

Usually bought in pairs to allow continuous use.

Comes with a tap to drain of excess liquid.

Cheap to purchase.

Small sized units so can be used indoors in the kitchen when filling.

Can process all food waste including cooked.

Once digested the food waste can be added to any compost bin or wormery to continue the compost process.

When added to a compost bin the bokashi mixture 'kick-starts' the compost process.

Pouring the liquid drain off can help remove smells from sinks as the EM continue to work on food and fat buiild 

Although cheap to buy you need an ongoing supply of EM bran.

Lid needs to be kept closed and air-tight for the process to work, if not it can be smelly.

Green Johannas









This composting system is a hot composter due to its insulated plastic construction which can recycle some garden waste and all food waste into compost.

It will deal with two parts food waste for every one part of garden waste added. 

You can put all your food waste in this system including cooked and uncooked food.

Can deal with some garden waste.

Produces compost faster (4 to 6 months) than most cold compost bins.

Ideally needs a shady location.

Some construction required as it has screw together sections.

Can only take limited amount of garden waste (one part for every two of food waste).

Green Cone


Green Cone is designed for food waste disposal rather than producing uable compost. The waste is digested rather than composted. It is reduced to nutrient rich water which enters the soil under the base of the cone.

You can put all your food waste in this system including cooked and uncooked food.

No need to turn the waste.

Some digging required as the basket section needs to be below the ground

Can't be used in locations with a high water table.

Does not produce usable compost. 


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