The City of Cape Town has embarked on an innovative Home Composting Programme, providing free home composting containers to encourage residents to start composting at home. Instead of throwing away your household organic waste, including fruit and vegetable waste, eggshells, tea bags, leaves, etc. you can use it to generate compost for your garden.
In April 2016, the City embarked on a phased initiative to provide free home composting containers to residents. The aim of this initiative is to help you deal with your organic household waste and create a good compost system. Good compost feeds nutrients back into soil, retaining moisture and together to grow your own food or establish a healthy garden.
The City have already provided more than 11 000 free home composting containers and more will be provided in 2018. Those with qualifying properties will be invited to apply for, and collect, a home composting container at nearby collection venues, during specific dates and times.
- A maximum of 150 free home composting containers will be issued per day.
- Application forms will only be available at the venues during the specified dates and times.
- Containers will be provided on a first-come-first-serve basis.
How do you qualify?
If you live within one of the subcouncils listed here, you can apply for your free home composting container when our team comes to your area.
To qualify for a free home composting container:
- You need to be a homeowner or tenant of a single residence (sectional title flats are excluded)
- Your property needs to include a secure garden or yard area, which must include a minimum of 1 m2 of open soil (where you’ll place the container) and a minimum of 30 m2 covered by vegetation, to generate healthy compost.
Visit your nearest collection point specified in this document to complete your application. If your property qualifies, you can collect your home composting package on the day you apply.
Why start composting at home?
In today’s heavily populated world, landfills have never been under as much pressure. Recycling is slowly catching on, but waste is still excessive. So many things are thrown into landfills – including things that can be recycled. Organic matter accounts for a substantial percentage of a typical load of rubbish. While some organic matter is not suitable for compost, a lot of it is. Fruit and vegetable waste, spoiled uncooked food, tea bags, egg shells and many other day to day organic matter is thrown in with inorganic matter, when it can be put to good use instead. This is where composting comes in…
Compost is made of pure organic matter. Leaves, garden refuse, fruit and vegetables and even used tea bags are all collected in specially designed bins that use water, air, condensation and natural heat to create nutrient-rich compost. This compost can be used in the garden instead of chemically enhanced store-bought compost.
Some benefits of home composting include the following:
- Reduced burden on landfills
All of your garden refuse and so-called ‘wet waste’ can be composted instead of added to landfills, which in turn reduces the burden on our already overloaded dump sites. Used alongside home recycling, this means that you can greatly reduce the amount of waste generated by your household.
- Free soil additive and fertiliser
You won’t have to buy fertiliser or other plant food if you are making your own compost, which is rich in essential nutrients such as nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium. Organic, home-made compost is free of chemicals and additives, making it excellent for veggie gardens as well as flowers and other plants.
- Lowered water bills in garden
When compost is used as soil mulch, it reduces the need for watering. Adding compost at key times of the year protects soil from drying out, helping to retain moisture underneath top layers. This cuts down on your water bill and keeps you garden in tip top shape. With water restrictions still lingering, this is good news.
What goes in the compost bin?
Composting materials are divided into the following categories:
- Browns – dead leaves, branches and twigs.
- Greens – grass clippings, vegetable waste, fruit scraps, tea bags and coffee grounds.
- Water – the right amount of water, greens, and browns ensures perfect compost.
Things you should never put into your compost container include pet waste (including cat litter) meat, chicken or fish scraps, spoiled cooked food (or any freshly cooked food either), non-organic matter and chemicals. Lemons and oranges are too acidic for compost, so should also be avoided. Other things to avoid: tissues, paper towel, nappies, dairy items, charcoal, charcoal ash, fats, lard or oils, diseased or insect ridden plants and garden trimmings that have been subjected to pesticides.
To get started once you receive your bin, start by making a layer of dried leaves, grass and sticks, along with vegetable and fruit matter. Try to keep pieces fairly small to allow for easier break down of material. Add a bit of water as items are added so that the mixture can begin to ferment naturally. Bins should be placed somewhere shady, away from direct sunlight. When the material towards the bottom of the bin is dark and moist, it is ready to be used in your garden. It can take anywhere from two months to two years, so remember to be patient. It is worth the effort though – you will eventually have pure, healthy compost that helps your garden as well as the environment.
How to apply
To apply, you will need to bring the following to the collection point:
- A copy of your municipal account
- Your identity document or passport
If your application is successful, you can collect your home composting package.