Home composting

Turning waste into useful compost

Practical Action recognises the positive benefits of composting for poor families. With better management of waste, households can produce rich compost that can be used on gardens to improve the soil, thereby increasing productivity. This provides poor families with a variety of fresh vegetables to eat, as well as a small income from the surplus vegetables.

Therefore, Practical Action has introduced home-composting bins into poor neighbourhoods.

Composting reduces the volume of generated wastes that would have to be transported and disposed of. It offers several benefits such as enhanced soil fertility and soil health-thereby increased agricultural productivity, improved soil biodiversity, reduced ecological risks and a better environment.

Composting is the biodegradation of organic matter under aerobic conditions where materials are transformed into compost. Dead leaves, kitchen wastes and vegetables are considered as organic wastes. Compost is odorless and pathogen free brown mixture that is specially used as soil conditioner, if it accurately decomposed.

Home composting is now being encouraged as a means of reducing the organic waste being discarded and sent to the landfills. These organic substances are bulky to handle and contribute to numerous liquid and gaseous emissions that deteriorate dumpsite environments. A good home composting programmes can significantly reduce the quantity of organic waste adding to the mainstream and subsequent emissions upon final disposal. Valuable products (compost) are produced while reducing the costs incurred for collection, transportation and final disposal at dumpsite.

Reducing plastic waste in Nepal

Working with partner organisations, Practical Action has provided support with training activities and field visits to help households understand solid waste management systems in Nepal.

Before 2003 residents were careless about the problems associated with excessive use of plastics, and it was a common sight to see garbage lying in public areas. Since then, significant environmental improvements have been achieved by local women’s groups who have taken action to reduce the amount of waste plastic in eight areas of Bharatupur district, Nepal.

Residents have been encouraged to segregate plastic bags from other waste and push them onto a suiro, which is a metal hook with a long stem that can hold large numbers of bags so they are not scattered to the winds. Using the suiro has helped to reduce the quantities of mixed waste and the careless dumping of waste. This is not only reducing the amounts of plastic waste in the urban area but also making people aware of the environmental problems caused by plastics.

The women’s groups collect around two tonnes of plastics every month, more than a tonne of plastics can be sold to generate an income. The plastic is collected using two rickshaws that can carry 300-500 kg of recovered waste that is transported to the dumping site designated by Bharatpur municipality.

With Practical Action’s support the programme has demonstrated that an income can be generated from solid waste and other areas are now adopting the scheme.

You can download  technical briefs and manuals on soil fertility and composting at Practical Answers, the technical information service of Practical Action, or you can submit an enquiry to the Practical Action staff via the online form

Home Composting Bins

This Technical Brief shows home composting is now being encouraged as a means dealing with organic waste and can offer several benefits such as enhanced soil fertility.


Compost Bin Manufacture

This Technical Brief explains concrete composting bin fabrication.

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