What Are the Different Types of Composting?

hands holding compost

Composting is nature’s way of recycling and creates nutrient-rich soil food. It’s an effective method for diverting food scraps, organic waste, and compostable packaging from landfill. There are a number of composting methods that are suitable for different materials. Learn more.

First off, what is compost? Composting, also known as organic recycling, is the natural breakdown of organic matter over time. How does composting work? Fungi, bacteria, insects, worms and other organisms break down organic waste to produce nutrient-rich compost.

What are the methods of composting?

There are two different kinds of composting – home composting, and commercial and/or industrial composting. Today, we’re going to break down the difference and take a look at the benefits of composting.

Why does it matter?

Knowing the difference between these two composting methods is important. Put simply, it makes it much easier to dispose of packaging responsibly, as well as identifying different types of compost bins when out and about.

Because, while almost all organic waste, for example, eggshells, banana peels and tea bags, can be composted at home, not all compostable packaging can be. Some packaging can be easily broken down in home composting systems, while some needs the regulated environment of a commercial facility.

How to compost at home?

hands holding worms in composthands holding worms in compost

Home composting is exactly what you think – composting that is done at home. While the end result of nutrient-dense soil food is similar to that of commercial composting facilities, the main difference is that the process is a little less regulated when it comes to temperature and atmosphere. This means: not all packaging will break down in a home composting environment.

Why should you compost at home? Despite most councils offering a food waste collection service, the research found that almost 50% of all food waste in the average rubbish bin could have been composted (source). Plus, why not improve your soil and reduce your impact on the environment at the same time? According to Recycle How UK “composting at home for just one year can save global warming gases equivalent to all the Co2 your kettle produces annually”…

Industrial composting

workers looking at industrial compost heapworkers looking at industrial compost heap

For some, however, home composting is not a viable option, and luckily most councils do offer a food waste collection service, supporting the circular economy by providing two types of composting solutions, 1. In-vessel composting and 2. Anaerobic Digestion – these types of composting are different to home composting and are much easier to control and maintain.

In-vessel composting

In-vessel composting is a process that mimics home composting but on a much larger scale. The process is sped up by increasing the temperature up to 70oC, whereafter the material is left for 1 – 3 months to mature before being used as a high-quality soil conditioner.

Anaerobic composting

This type of composting uses microorganism to break down a mixture of food waste, animal manure and energy crops inside an enclosed vessel. Whilst this type of composting gives off methane, the harmful substance is captured and converted into a biogas that can subsequently be used to generate electricity, heat and transport fuels – again, supporting the circular economy.

Composting standards

It’s really important to look out for composting certifications when disposing of compostable packaging. At BioPak, we adhere to European standards: EN13432 for commercially compostable, and NF T51-800 for home compostable.

For home compostable packaging, look for this symbol.

home compostable logohome compostable logo

For commercially compostable packaging, look for this symbol.

commercial compostable logocommercial compostable logo