Composting at home

What is compost?

Compost is an organic material consisting of garden waste and/or kitchen scraps which has decomposed to form a rich, soil-like substance. During the composting process, tiny organisms feed on the waste and multiply, which breaks down the organic materials. 

Home compost is perfect for encouraging healthy growth of plants, shrubs and flowers or simply using as a mulch or lawn fertiliser. Composting at home is just one small step towards minimising the amount of waste we create, but if everybody gets involved then it makes a huge difference.

What can I compost?

Garden waste and food waste are the most common items for composting at home, but there are some 'rules' for success. There is a lot of helpful information on what to put in  your compost bin and how best to locate it in your garden on the Recycle Now and  Royal Horticultural Society websites.

You need more or less an equal combination of  'greens' (high nitrogen) and 'browns' (high carbon):

  • Greens: uncooked fruit and vegetable peelings, garden waste (grass cuttings, green leaves, and soft prunings, etc.) as well as tea bags and coffee grounds
  • Browns: bits of cardboard, scrunched up paper, dried leaves, wood prunings etc, which create air pockets

When adding more material, check the contents and mix occasionally. If the mixture is too dry, add water and if it is too wet, add some more browns such as egg cartons or cardboard.

What can't I compost?

  • cooked food*
  • fish and meat including bones*
  • perennial weeds*
  • diseased plants**
  • cat and dog poo**

* place these items in your green wheeled bin              ** place these items in your black bin bag

Email  if you have any home composting questions or problems.

Buy a compost bin or water butt

MK Council does not sell compost bins directly so we have joined forces with Get Composting which offers low cost bins on our behalf. You can view and purchase the full range of composters, wormeries and water butts on the Get Composting website or you can call their customer order line on 0844 571 4444.

How to make a compost bin

You will need:

  • Spade or rake
  • Strong wooden pallets (four)
  • Sturdy wooden stakes (six)
  • Sledgehammer
  • Bow saw
  • Strong wire

Step 1 Clear the area where you’re going to put the compost bin and, if necessary, level the ground using a spade or a rake. You need to stand the bin on bare soil, not paving. Add a base of chicken wire if you are worried about rats getting in.

Step 2 Take a pallet and stand it on the long edge to form the back edge of the compost bin. Push a stake through the two layers of the pallet at either end, using a sledgehammer to drive them firmly into the ground – about 20-30 cm deep.

Step 3 Position the remaining two pallets at right angles to the first to make the sides, butting the corners tightly together to stop compost spilling through the gaps. Fix in place with stakes in each corner, as in step 2.

Step 4 To keep the structure stable, wire the pallets together at each corner. Trim the tops of the stakes with a bow saw. 

Step 5 Wire the last pallet onto the front of the right side pallet to make a gate – you’ll need to open it when you want to get to the compost – and start filling your bin with garden and kitchen waste.

Waste and Recycling team contact information

Milton Keynes Waste Recovery Park (appointment only), 9 Dickens Road, Old Wolverton, Milton Keynes MK12 5QF