How to avoid a stinky collection bucket

Any organic waste collection service has to consider the probability of some unpleasant odours from time to time although unlike a ‘night soil’ collection this is far from inevitable!

The worst thing that you can do with any decaying organic matter is wrap it up in plastic. This traps in liquids and excludes air and makes the whole situation ripe for fermentation, leading to greenhouse gas generation and some pretty funky odours. The same thing can happen with a bucket full of kitchen waste. Kitchen waste can be up to 80% water. As the juices from various fruit and veg collect in the bucket, and with extra material piled on top, fermentation can begin quite quickly. The good news is that with a local based initiative like the HCC it’s easy for me to collect the small buckets frequently. Ideally, the kitchen wastes would be added to the compost heap before any fermentation begins. Therefore I am happy to collect from households twice weekly.

Of course, remembering to put the compost bucket out is just one more thing in our busy lives, so some may prefer to have their buckets collected weekly, or even a little less often. In that case, another thing that can help a great deal is to leave the bucket lid off 🙂 This gets air into the bucket, but more importantly lets the water evaporate. If your compost materials dry out then the bacteria that carry out the fermentation won’t have a chance to grow (or to stink it up!). If you want to go a step further you could even put some absorptive material in the bottom, like shredded paper towel or newspaper.

Municipality or local council run kitchen waste collection services don’t always tackle this issue successfully. Some of them have tried using carefully designed vented bins but frequency of collection may well be the answer. In this case I think that we can show that a local effort can do better.

And remember, if your bucket is getting a little on the nose, give me a bell and I’ll swap it for a fresh one! (even if it’s not full yet)

a rather attractive, non-stinky bucket from a long time HCC contributor 🙂


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