What is a Plastic Compost Bin?

J.S. Metzker Erdemir

A plastic compost bin is a plastic container used to store or make compost. A small bin might be kept in or near the kitchen for food waste that will be taken outside to the compost heap. A large plastic compost bin can be used outdoors to make compost, or to store finished compost.

A plastic compost bucket.
A plastic compost bucket.

A kitchen compost bin is generally used to store food waste, such as fruit and vegetable cuttings, egg shells, used teabags and coffee filters, and paper wrappers. These bins are for convenience, as the compost waste must be separated from other garbage. The compost pile is usually far away from the house because it attracts insects and often has an unpleasant smell.

Egg shells are good candidates for a home compost pile.
Egg shells are good candidates for a home compost pile.

A plastic compost bin for making compost should have a cover to keep out excess rain water, though it should be left open in dry weather. It should also have holes around the sides and bottom that allow oxygen to reach the compost. Compost needs to be turned regularly to aerate it. A compost pile can be difficult to turn, because it must be done by hand with a shovel or fork. Many compost bins act as tumblers, and have a crank or some way to turn the container and mix the compost, making the gardener's job much easier.

Compost is an organic soil amendment and fertilizer made of decomposed kitchen and garden waste. These wastes are collected in a pile where they decompose slowly. In order for compost to be successful, there must be a balance of green wastes, such as food and grass cuttings, and brown waste, which includes carbonaceous material such as newspaper, cardboard, dried leaves, and straw.

If there is too much green waste, the pile will get hot and full of anaerobic bacteria, which make the material slimy and smelly. Too much brown waste prevents the pile from reaching the temperatures needed for healthy decomposition, and the materials won't break down. Mixing or tumbling the compost helps maintain this balance. Storing the material in a plastic compost bin discourages scavengers and looks attractive in a home garden.

Plastic bins may also be used to store finish compost, which is spread in the garden. Compost can also be steeped in water to make compost tea, a powerful fertilizer and foliar spray. Finished compost has no unpleasant smell, and resembles dark brown soil. Compost is rich in the nutrients plants need to thrive, including nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium as well as trace minerals. Compost is also full of microbiotic life that breaks down soil and makes soil nutrients available to plants.

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