HomeComposting in Chittenden CountyBackyard options for managing food scraps

Backyard options for managing food scraps

Vermont’s Universal Recycling Law

Vermont’s Universal Recycling Law (Act 148) requires food scraps to be kept out of the landfill by 2020.

You can easily manage food scraps, yard debris, and other organics right at home…and you don’t need a garden, or even a green thumb!

Backyard Composting

For turning yard debris and some food scraps into compost for your lawn or garden.

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Backyard Digesting

Easily break down any food scraps—including meat, bones, and dairy products.

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Hybrid

Use both techniques to take care of all kitchen and yard waste at your own home while producing compost for your lawn or garden.

Learn more

Not interested in managing food waste in your backyard?
Ask your trash hauler about curbside collection, or try drop-off composting.

Backyard Composting

Food scraps sitting on the ground next to finished compost.
Photo by Joi Ito

Composting is the process of turning organic matter—like food scraps, lawn clippings, and leaves—into nutrient-rich soil. If you like to garden, or want to give your lawn some natural love, then home composting may be a great fit for you.

Don’t have a big backyard? You don’t need a lot of space (or even a yard!) to create high-quality soil at home. You can use almost any kind of container, as long as you provide the right mix of materials.

Advantages:

  • Manages almost all of your food scraps (except for meat, bones, and dairy)
  • Produces nutrient-rich compost to improve the soil in your lawn or garden
  • Can break down virtually any quantity of food and yard waste (depending on how much space you have)

Possible disadvantages:

  • Takes up space in your yard
  • Can’t handle meat, bones, dairy products, or pet waste
  • You need to have leaves or straw or another “carbon source” to balance your mix

Backyard Digesting

Woman putting food scraps into a Green Cone digester.

For anyone who does not have the time, or the need to compost, a digester is a great alternative. It works like a septic system, breaking food down using light and heat, so that nothing remains.

A backyard digester—like the Green Cone (pictured to the right)—can handle any kind of food scraps, including meat, bones, and dairy.

The Green Cone is available for purchase (at cost) from Green Mountain Compost. Plans for DIY home digesters can also be found online: See Backyard Organic Waste Digester (via instructables.com).

Advantages:

  • Manages virtually anything that comes from your kitchen, including meat, bones, and dairy
  • No stress, no mess—a digester does all the work!

Possible disadvantages:

  • Requires some outdoor space (approx. 2′ x 2′ on level ground with good drainage that receives a moderate amount of direct sunlight)
  • Can’t handle large volumes (limit of about 1.5 – 2.5 pounds per day)
  • Doesn’t take garden or lawn debris; food scraps only

Hybrid

If you want to handle all of your organic waste—including meat, bones, and dairy—and you want to create some rich soil amendment for your garden, then a hybrid system may be for you! Using both a compost pile AND a digester, you can have the best of both worlds.

Advantages:

  • Manages virtually anything that comes from your kitchen, including meat, bones, and dairy
  • Handles lawn clippings, leaves, and other yard debris
  • Produces nutrient-rich compost to improve the soil in your lawn or garden

Possible disadvantages:

  • Requires some maintenance
  • Takes up space in your yard