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What Can Be Composted? – Garden Recycling Guide

garden compost heap with food waste

We all strive to recycle instead of sending our waste to landfill, but what about composting? Though not as common as recycling, composting will sometimes be the more effective and eco-friendly option. Emphasis on the sometimes. Discover when you should and shouldn’t compost in this month’s article.

What is composting?

Composting is the process of adding organic matter to soil. The organic matter naturally decomposes, leaving nothing but good ol’ nutrients that enrich the soil, helping plants to grow.

This process is an all-natural option for getting rid of your waste. It’s inexpensive, sends nothing to landfill and uses absolutely no energy. 

What are the benefits of composting?

Composting has a wealth of benefits, most notably for the planet — but also for your wallet.

  • Instead of rotting in landfill, organic waste in composts decomposes and creates a rich matter that can be applied to flower beds and newly planted bulbs. In this sense, composting is a form of recycling, and is the only form that requires no energy.
  • Composting supports healthy soil growth. The nutrients provided by organic waste maintains moisture levels, balances pH levels and suppresses plant diseases.
  • Composting saves you money. Money that would otherwise be spent on garden maintenance or travelling to the local skip can be avoided by composting instead.
  • Composting will reduce your carbon footprint. Composting for just one year can reduce the same amount of carbon emissions that your kettle produces annually.

What can and can’t you compost?

Composting is only suitable for organic waste, but it is not always clear which items are derived from biological sources. In addition, not all organic waste should be composted, as many items will leave unwanted smells, attract pets or kill the composting organisms.

Here are some common household items you can compost (with some surprising inclusions):

  • Fruit and vegetable scraps
  • Cardboard, including toilet roll tubes and cereal boxes
  • Tissues
  • Coffee grounds and filters
  • Garden trimmings (that haven’t been treated with pesticides)
  • Nut shells
  • Animal fur
  • Eggshells
  • Vacuum cleaner lint
  • Hay and straw
  • Teabags
  • Newspaper
  • Burnt matches

Here are some items that are not suitable for composting:

  • Meat, fish or egg scraps
  • Dairy products
  • Fats and oils
  • Diseased plants
  • Pet waste
  • Garden trimmings that have been treated with pesticides

Composting vs recycling

Composting may seem like the perfect option — it requires no energy and can be done from home — but there are advantages to recycling, too. Namely, recycling an item puts its core materials back into the resource stream.

Take newspapers, for example. When you compost newspapers, they decompose and nourish the soil. That’s great for the environment, right? Well, yes. But it doesn’t add any materials back into the cycle for manufacturing. When you recycle your newspapers, you are adding to the stream of raw materials. This means that fewer trees need to be cut down to create newspapers — companies can simply use recycled materials.

So which is better? There is no one answer. Both composting and recycling provide a wealth of environmental benefits, and we encourage both as an alternative to sending waste to landfill.


At Woodford Recycling, we’re passionate about removing your waste while protecting the environment. Choose our services and you can feel good in the knowledge that we aim to recycle 100% of your waste, diverting it from landfill. If you’re a customer in Huntingdon, Cambridge, Peterborough or the surrounding areas are in need of skip hire, waste management, or any other other waste removal services, get in contact with our team today.

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