What is a compost hut?

  • It is a clean and tidy communal composting area in a public place.
  • Local households drop off fruit and veggie scraps to the hut for composting.
  • The compost hut and system is maintained by Council staff.
  • The huts produce high quality compost, which will be made available to participating households, and for local use.
  • Compost huts have been proven to work successfully as a model in Hernani, Spain.
The compost hut has two composting bays inside. One is a “working” bay and the other is a “resting” bay People open the roof, and put fruit and veggie scraps in the “working” bay. Then they cover the scraps with dry leaves which are kept in the hut. The compost is turned at least once week by council staff to keep it aerated. We have decided to add a small community planter at one end so community members can grow herbs or other food plants like strawberries to share.

Why were these 2 sites chosen?

  • People who live nearby want to compost but aren’t able to compost at home
  • The locations are highly populated residential areas so many people live under two minutes’ walk from the hut. It’s easy to drop scraps.
  • Council owns the land so we can build the huts on it and look after them.
  • The hut fits in well with how the reserves are currently used by community members
  • There is safe access and good passive surveillance (people can see the reserves from their home or there are many passers-by) so we think people will feel safe using the huts.
  • They are accessible for council staff to check on it, deliver leaves and other composting materials
  • The sites are fairly level and there is good drainage

What does participation involve?

  • Anyone who lives locally and can deliver food scraps regularly from home is invited to participate preferable within walking distance of the sites.  
  • Once we reach capacity (40 households) at each hut, we will create a waiting list. Only registered and trained participants will receive code to access the huts. Other community members won’t be able to access the huts. 
  • We are designing the huts to be accessible to people with different levels of physical ability.
  • Once you've signed up, we will contact you so we can organise your kitchen caddy and some training on how to use the hut leading up to the trial in March 2017

Who looks after the hut and the compost?

The compost hut will be maintained by Council’s compost officer with assistance form the parks & streetscape team. Although the responsibility lies with Council if those using the compost hut follow simple steps given in the training session leading up to the trial the composting system will work well for everyone.

This is a Spanish model, will it work in Sydney?

Council staff has worked with Hernani Council, compost experts and architect to ensure that the huts are designed to work well in the local context. We are making some adjustments so the hut works well in our local climate.

What are the benefits to getting involved?

  • Composting is good for the environment and the community.
  • Contributing your food scraps will reduce your waste and your carbon footprint
  • You’ll be part of a community project
  • The compost you help make will be used to improve local soil structure and health and grow plants locally.
  • There will be less fuel used to take your food scraps to landfill in a truck.
  • Your food scraps will break down aerobically. This means they will release less methane, a harmful greenhouse gas.
  • You might enjoy using compost you’ve helped make to grow plants at home.

How will Council deal with the possibility of pests or smells at the site?

  • This is a closed system, designed to be rat and cockroach proof, so they cannot enter the hut, and designed not to smell
  • Covering the food scraps with leaves and mixing the compost regularly will help deter interested creatures
  • They are less likely to be interested in disturbed areas and the compost will be mixed up regularly.
  • Council has not had any reports of rat or cockroaches problems at the 75 collective composting systems we support in local unit blocks. 
  • Focusing on fresh fruit and veggie scraps and keeping meat, dairy products and eggs out of the compost are other key ways we will deter pests
  • Well maintained compost systems should have an earthy smell. Sometimes they have a slight foody, fermenting odour whilst being aerated, but would not smell rotten.
  • The huts will be regularly checked on by staff. Council will address any problems or vandalism and deal with the issue as soon as possible.

Can I empty my Bokashi into the compost?

No. Bokashi is a fermentation process which is different from composting.  

How much compost will be made and how will it be used?

  • When the compost hut is working at full capacity and at its most efficient, it can make up to 800L every six weeks-that’s 32 bags standard bags of compost.
  • During the trial we will be building the compost up, so finished compost should be available for local use within 3 months (by June). 
  • The compost will be offered to participating households, local community gardens and used on our parks and verge gardens. Some of the compost will also be used to grow some food plants at each hut site.