Urban Food Garden

PLASTIC COMPOST BINS (2)

Plastic Compost Bins

Probably the most common compost bins in use today are the black or green plastic bins that are readily sold in hardware shops and nurseries.  While they have their uses they also have some significant shortfalls.  Listed below are the advantages and disadvantages of plastic compost bins.

ADVANTAGES

(flip me)

ADVANTAGES

  • There is Little or no work involved to set them up as no building skills or equipment are required.
  • Many of them have a tapered shape (the top being smaller than the bottom), this shape makes it easy to lift the bin off the compost when the composting process has finished. Being lightweight also makes them quite portable.
  • They can be made rodent proof if placed on wire mesh, paving bricks, or concrete. They are relatively cheap when you consider the material and labour costs involved in making a traditional wooden compost bin.

DISADVANTAGES

(flip me)

DISADVANTAGES

  • Plastic bins are usually smaller than the recommended size for making good compost. . Smaller compost bins experience higher temperature and moisture fluctuations, which is not good for the anaerobic action required to make good compost.
  • They have poorer ventilation than bins made from wood. This can create a much wetter compost mixture, especially if you are adding a lot of sloppy household scraps to the bin. A compost mixture that is too wet will often have a putrid smell to it that attracts flies.
  • Most plastic compost bins come with waterproof lids, which mean that when it rains the compost does not get wet. Dry compost does not break down as quickly as moist compost.

Things To Consider if you do buy a plastic compost bin

If you do intend to use plastic compost bins, then here are some things to consider before buying: –

  • Buy bigger sized bins. The most common plastic bin size is around 220 litres but there are larger ones on the market, ranging up to 800 litres.  The bigger the bin the more stable the moisture and temperature levels will be.

  • Buy more than one bin. While one bin is being filled the second bin can be left to rot down properly.  Some plastic compost bins come with a hatch at the bottom, the theory being that you will be able to rake out finished compost from the bottom while at the same time adding fresh compostable material to the top.  However, I have found that removing compost using the hatch is awkward.

  • Buy bins with aeration holes on the side. If your bin does not have side aeration holds, consider drilling small holes at regular intervals on the sides to create your own ventilation holes.

  • If the lid is watertight consider drilling holes in it and turning it upside down so when it rains the water will be channelled into the bin. Or simply leave the lid off permanently.

If you do intend to use plastic compost bins, then here are some things to consider before buying: –

  • Buy bigger sized bins. The most common plastic bin size is around 220 litres but there are larger ones on the market, ranging up to 800 litres.  The bigger the bin the more stable the moisture and temperature levels will be.

  • Buy more than one bin. While one bin is being filled the second bin can be left to rot down properly.  Some plastic compost bins come with a hatch at the bottom, the theory being that you will be able to rake out finished compost from the bottom while at the same time adding fresh compostable material to the top.  However, I have found that removing compost using the hatch is awkward.

  • Buy bins with aeration holes on the side. If your bin does not have side aeration holds, consider drilling small holes at regular intervals on the sides to create your own ventilation holes.

  • If the lid is watertight consider drilling holes in it and turning it upside down so when it rains the water will be channelled into the bin. Or simply leave the lid off permanently.

If the lid for your compost bin is watertight you should consider turning it upside down and drilling holes in it to allow rainwater in. The brick is there to stop the lid from blowing off.

Four examples of plastic compost bins on the market, images courtesy of the internet. The top two bins are designed to lift off the compost when the composting process is completed, the bottom two have hatches to remove the compost from the bottom. Note that there are other plastic bin designs available, but the ones show here represent the most common types.

Categories