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NC State Extension

Food Waste Management

Why compost food scraps?

Every day, households, schools, institutions, and businesses throw leftover table scraps and food preparation waste into the garbage. The garbage must be picked up and transported to a disposal facility–at significant financial and environmental cost. Through composting or vermicomposting, food scraps are transformed into a nutrient-rich soil amendment for plants and gardens.

How are food scraps composted?

food-scraps-garbageComposting is the aerobic decomposition of organic materials by micoorganisms under controlled conditions into a soil-like substance called compost. During composting, microorganisms such as bacteria and fungi break down complex organic compounds into simpler substances and produce carbon dioxide, water, minerals, and stabilized organic matter (compost). The process produces heat, which can destroy pathogens (disease-causing microorganisms) and weed seeds.

Are there any kinds of food scraps that should not be composted?

At home, don’t put meat, fish, dairy products, grease, oil, or bones in your compost bin. Cover kitchen scraps or vegetable garden trimmings with brown leaves or other carbon materials. Large-scale composting facilities are able to compost all of these materials (with the proper permits).

Tools Needed to Get Started

Learn how to compost at home. Businesses, institutions, and farms may read about large-scale composting for more information.

Publications and Internet Resources

Horticulture Publications

Internet Resources