Composting in housing companies

21.3.2018

Composting in housing companies

 

After sorting, the waste is either composted in the same yard (so called small-scale composting) or it is taken to large waste-handling plants or to the compost heaps of refuse collection and disposal companies (so called separate collection). Small-scale composting naturally requires somewhat more time and effort from the dwellers but rewards them in reduced expenses. It is, of course, advantageous to the environment that waste needs not be transported.

While planning to start composting in a housing company, it is advisable to inquire about the willingness of dwellers to participate using, for example, a feedback form. Not everyone needs to participate in the starting phase, but the larger the number of those participating is, the less waste will be gathered.

A composter is not all that is needed for composting in a housing company. After the favourable decision has been taken, it pays to obtain all the equipment required for composting at one time. This makes the composting easy at a later stage without any unexpected difficulties.

For example, the start-up package for composting contains the following accessories:

  • Composter hermetic against harmful animals with proper thermal insulation; the volume at minimum 500 litres. For composting in housing companies we recommend, for example, Biolan Fast Composter 550. 
  • Bedding container for example, a plastic waste bin of 240 litres, which is filled with bedding
  • A few bags of bedding, more information Bedding and nutrient additives 
  • Bedding bucket medium-sized plastic water bucket 
  • Thermometer for compost, if it is not included in the standard equipment of the composter
  • Do not use a quicksilver thermometer, as it may break easily! 
  • Compostmixer or any other tool for tossing the compost. Tossing is easy using a built-for-the purpose Compostmixer 
  • Equipment for emptying the compost. A spade with flat edge and a wheel-barrow for emptying a household waste composter, a pitch fork for turning and emptying of the garden compost 
  • Collecting bins for bio waste for each household. A suitable size for a family with children is 5-10 litres. If so desired, the biowaste bins can be acquired as a joint procurement which often helps reduce the cost.

For example, one Fast Composter of 550 litres is sufficient for 10-15 households or about 30 people. In larger housing companies two or more composters are required. 

An ideal location for a composter is a permeable gravel base as the excess water must be able to exit the composter to prevent it from soaking. This so-called seep water is not dangerous, but it can mess up the waste room floor.

In housing companies the correct location for the composter is usually in a waste compartment or inside a fence. Then all waste can be conveniently taken to one single sorting place. A functioning compost ”breaths” quite a lot. Therefore, decent ventilation is essential in its location.

Experience has proved that the best way to take on composting is to arrange a common consultancy meeting for the dwellers on how to sort waste and maintain the compost. It pays to distribute sorting instructions in writing to all households.

It is advisable to agree on the people responsible for maintenance of the compost before the composting is started. The person in charge can be, for example, the caretaker or a company providing real estate services. Most often the compost is being taken care of by a group of the house"s voluntary dwellers. A caretaker-team of 4-5 people may be sufficient, because attending to the compost does not require much time, in general about 20 minutes a week is enough. It is a good idea to divide the attendance turns, for example, to periods of one or two months.

Each dweller applies a thin layer of bedding onto the compost when bringing waste. The amount of bedding to be applied is about a half of the waste amount brought. The caretaker of the compost ensures that there is enough bedding in the bedding container. One of the caretaker"s duties is also to mix the compost about once a week. The mixing prevents the compost from packing too much and ensures the smooth decaying. The compost should not be mixed too often, or it may dry out too much.

Observing the humidity of the compost is one of the caretaker"s most important duties. While mixing the compost, it is easy to see, if some part of it has dried out too much, usually this is the centre. A dry compost must be watered generously.
If there are two composters, it is important also to take care of the composter that is maturing. Without attendance, the maturing compost packs and dries out, which stops the composting process. Emptying the compost is also one of the caretaker"s duties. Often the caretakers empty the composter together.