Frequently Asked Questions

What goes in the bucket?
  • vegetable/fruit skins, peelings and rinds of pretty much any kind
  • ends of carrots/celery/capsicums etc.
  • cores from cabbage, cauliflower, and of course apples
  • leftovers and cooked food (just not too much oil at once)
  • bread, rice
  • fruit, including citrus
  • onions and garlic
  • teabags (not the nylon, pyramid-shaped type), tea, coffee
  • small pieces of paper
  • nuts, old spices
  • sugar, cakes, biscuits
  • lentils and beans
  • avocado skins! even avocado seeds
  • eggs and eggshells
  • compostable bags and packaging BUT only if you have cut these into 1-2cm wide strips
  • toothpicks
  • certified compostable tablewear or packaging (break into small pieces first)
  • Plastic, metal or other non-organic materials
  • Those little fruit stickers! (they're plastic!)
  • meat/fish, including bones
  • large quantities of oils and fats (we got a whole block of butter once, that was odd...)
  • liquids
  • vaccum dust (too many microplastics in here, sorry)
  • baking paper (may contain PFAS chemicals, until they phase these out...)
  • packaging that isn't certified as compostable - look for Australian standard AS4736 & AS5810
What about compostable packaging?

This is one that we get asked a lot. Yes, our hot heaps are super efficient and more akin to industrial composting than home composting, so we can accept many different types of compostable packaging. These items still take a little longer to break down than most of the other scraps (more like months than weeks).  And we ask that you cut (for bioplastics) or tear (for cardboard products) them up into smaller pieces before adding them into your bucket. This doesn't only help them to break down, it also prevents problems that can occur in the heap due to lamination (basically having a big flat piece that gets in the way of gas and moisture circulation inside the heap). The same goes for compostable bags, don't tie these off with veggie scraps inside them. It creates an unfavourable chemical environment that leads to bad odours.

Is it really compostable? Check your packaging for Australian standards: AS4736 or AS5810
Or keep an eye out for the seedling logo:

What time of day do the buckets get collected?

We generally try and complete our 'bucket route' in the morning. The time of day certainly depends on weather conditions and staffing factors. Therefore it is best to put buckets out for collection the day before (in case of very early morning collection) but sometimes they will not be emptied till the afternoon of  the collection day. Our route also frequently changes, depending on which households have joined up or are currently participating. So while your house may usually be early on in the route this is not always the case. Sometimes we might do the whole thing backwards! :)

How do I keep my bucket from going stinky?

There are several things you can do to help keep your bucket from going stinky. Here are just a few:

  • Swap or empty your buckets at least once weekly, whether or not they are full
  • Keep the lid off of the bucket (for plenty of oxygen and to aid evaporation)
  • When a bucket is full, store it in your refrigerator or freezer till collection
  • add absorptive material like shredded paper to the bottom of the bucket
What if I forget to put my bucket out?

Everyone does it sometimes! However, would you call up and ask the city bin (wo)men to drop around again or provide a convenient drop-off location? Similar to the waste contractors, we are trying to run Capital Scraps as a viable business. We are only able to provide this service if we are highly efficient with our 'bucket run'. This means no doubling back or special treatment for anyone who has forgotten to put their bucket out.

Need to hold over scraps an extra week?

In the colder months it is probably ok to hang onto scraps for an extra week. In summer you might need to take a little more care to prevent flies or odour around your bucket if it has to wait for the next opportunity for collection. See our advice on 'how do i keep my bucket from going stinky?' or simply give your scraps a stir! Getting air into them will help deodorise them and also prevent the fermentation that attracts flies.

If you have room you can put some of your scraps into the freezer! (or the fridge).

How does it work with apartment blocks?

We service many apartment dwellers in all different types of buildings or units. Any single apartment residence can sign up. It is always a good idea to let your body corporate know. This way no one is left wondering why there is a mysterious bucket at the front entrance each week. We ask that the buckets be left out the night before, in a spot that is easily accessible to our staff. This is usually underneath the buzzer or by the bank of letterboxes for most apartment buildings.

We can also set up 'whole of block' collection service. In this case we will liaise with your body corporate/strata management team/builing manager and set up a bucket swap station in your waste area. We will install a locked cage/cabinet so that only subscribed apartments can take part. This also ensures that the system is well-respected with no contamination with other waste materials.

What if I need a bigger bucket?

Our default position is to hand out small buckets to start with. We recognise that families with children will need to use a larger bucket. Using the smaller buckets is a great way to think about waste avoidance but we can also upsize you to a larger bucket whenever necessary. We don't want to disadvantage anyone who cooks a lot from scratch :)
More scraps = more work for us so if you are producing more scraps we might ask you to pay our higher service fee.

Can I use my own container/caddy?

Yes! We would love for you to use your own container. We can empty this on the fly. Your bucket/container should only require a quick wipe or rinse each week to keep it fresh.

Where does all the compost go?

We're sorry to disappoint but we need to point out that most people overestimate the amount of compost that we are able to produce! Food scraps are about 80% water so the volume of compost produced from food waste adds up being about 20% of the original volume (even though we also add equal volumes of carbon materials, the end product is more dense than the starting materials and they are significantly transformed also).

That being said, we love occasionally donating excess compost to community gardens and other local greening projects. As a contributor you can always ask for some and you will have priority above any other requests. But sometimes we need to shift a cubic metre out of our system to create room for more composting. In these cases we preferentially donate compost to the community gardens that we are associated with. 

How do I get some compost back?

We aim to fairly share out the proceeds of everyone's efforts. From the source separation in your kitchen to the heavy work pitchforking the heaps the creation of our compost is surely a community effort! Please be aware that most of the weight from kitchen scraps is water weight and it takes hundreds of buckets of scraps to make one bag of compost. We operate on a "who asks, gets" policy, so simply send us an email if you'd like some. There is usually a waiting list though so if you can give a heads up 2 weeks ahead of eg. setting up your new garden bed then there is a better chance of accommodating your request.

Why does my home compost take so long to break down?

For optimal performance a compost heap needs the right balance of these four ingredients: carbon, nitrogen, oxygen and water. If any of these are lacking or out of proportion then the compost will either take longer to transform, or may emit too much in the way of greenhouse gases (and stinky ones!) while it does. 

One of the advantages of community composting is that we can have a constant stream of nitrogen rich kitchen scraps that we can add in just the right amount to make for a very productive compost heap. It may seem counter-intuitive but by combining our kitchen scraps into one big pile we can make compost more quickly!

Are my private details secure with you?

Yes. We will never willingly share your address or other contact details with anyone without your explicit permission. Our online payment is via our merchant provider, Pinpayments, and none of our staff actually have access to your credit card details as these only exist in the back-end of Pinpayments secure systems.

Can I cancel my subscription easily if my situation changes?

Absolutely. For whatever reason you can easily cancel your subscription at any time. Any of the payment notifications from Pinpayments (our merchant provider) include a 'cancel subscription' option to easily cancel with one click. If you can't find the email notifications with these links just get in touch and we can cancel your subscription from our end or forward you the latest notification on your account.

Can I volunteer with you?

Absolutely! We run working bees of various types that anyone can get involved with. We also have plenty of work that is suited to two people working together (as opposed to larger groups). We have hosted many volunteers who would like to learn more about composting. It's a great way to improve your own skills as well as helping us out.
Even donating clean yoghurt buckets, pizza boxes and egg cartons to us is a great help.

If you are interested in working for us volunteering first is a great way to check expectations of what the work involves too.

How else can I support Capital Scraps?

Please donate egg cartons and pizza boxes! And perhaps an hour of your time to help us shred these :)

We also accept donations of money. Any money that you send our way will be used to support our operations or build more urban composters. Our service fees pay for the work to maintain and feed our composters but the composters themselves have been paid for out of government grants or personal funds (50/50).

Please also tell all of your friends in Canberra about us! We can accept pledges from anywhere in Canberra. With enough pledges to use our service we can staff a collection route and save more carbon. Please share, like and comment on our social media posts, mention us to schools and cafes and anyone interested in doing something for the climate.

© Copyright Capital Scraps Composting Pty Ltd 2021. All rights reserved.