What happens to green waste when it is recycled?

Green garden waste makes up approximately 14% of the average household’s waste [https://www.recyclenow.com/recycling-knowledge/how-is-it-recycled/garden-waste], and, even if your council doesn’t directly collect this, you can still recycle it and do your bit to recycle as much as possible and help to look after the environment. Any green waste including grass cuttings, tree trunks, weeds and old plants that you have can be recycled to be reused as compost.

How is it recycled?

After being collected, green garden waste is taken to a special composting site where it becomes a nutritious soil conditioner. When the waste arrives, any material that is not compostable is removed and the remaining waste is shredded. This shredded waste is then laid out in long piles known as windrows to decompose.

Composting sites operate in a similar way to a home compost bin, but are managed to help speed up the process. The volume of material means that the temperature can reach up to 60°C meaning that the enzymes and bacteria work quickly to create finished compost in just a few weeks.

The windrows are frequently turned to provide the microorganisms that decompose the material with oxygen. The high temperatures of the windrows help to kill off any harmful microbes, weeds or plant diseases that may have been caught in the waste material.

Before the material can be used as a compost, it is screened to remove any remaining contaminants and to grade the material to determine its end use. Any waste that is still too large can at this stage be put back through the process until it has decomposed sufficiently.

The entire recycling process can be completed in between 8 and 16 weeks depending on how the final product is intended to be used.

How is it used?

The finished compost can be applied in a wide range of end uses including agriculture, landscaping, gardens and brownfield sites. It is most often used as a soil improver, topsoil constituent, turf dressing or growing medium constituent.

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