Free collections of garden and food waste started in April and

Brown bin being emptied
Brown bin being emptied

it’s still not too late to register to recycle your twigs, leaves, grass, flowers and food with simple, year-round kerbside collections. You can find all the information you need about the scheme and register on our website.

But once we have emptied your brown bin, where does it go and what happens to it?

Collecting and cleaning

From your kerbside, we take your waste just over 13 miles to Vital Earth – a recycling site in Ashbourne.

When it arrives, anything that cannot be composted, such as plastic, clothing, metals and other domestic waste is removed. Please don’t put these items in your brown bin – you should only use it for compostable garden and food waste.

Refuse truck emptying garden and food waste
Refuse truck emptying garden and food waste

Composting

All fresh and clean, the waste is given a bit of water and is put into a closed vessel – a small, secure container with controllable temperature gauges.

Oxygen is pumped into the vessels, which causes them to heat up to a minimum of 65⁰C.

This heat kills off any harmful pathogens (like salmonella or E. coli), weeds and plant diseases. With good bacteria left to break down the waste, the compost created by this process meets the PAS 100 specification of quality.

The heat also speeds up the composting process. A regular garden compost bin would normally be a bit cooler than this, so the process could take much longer – sometimes over a year.

The waste stays in the vessel, breaking down in the warm temperatures, for up to 10 days.

Maturation

Windrows
Windrows

Once the compost has come out the vessel, it sits in piles (called ‘windrows’) in a large shed. Here, it continues to oxygenate and mature into healthy and rich compost. It stays here for up to eight weeks.

Once it has properly matured, the compost is separated. Natural nutrients are added to the mixture to ensure this compost is the best it can be without having anything chemical added.

Onwards and upwards

The compost created from your garden and food waste is bagged up and sold on to garden centres or used in agriculture.

Vital Earth compost
Vital Earth compost

As each batch is numbered, the team at Vital Earth can trace it back to exactly when it was delivered and where it came from so we can see which batch has come from specific collection rounds.

Some of it is also sent to us here, where it’s used by our Grounds Maintenance team in flower beds, planters and other floral features across the city. This means the garden and food waste you recycle could be helping keep Derby in bloom!

Vital earth compost, which could contain your recycled garden and food waste is available to purchase at Raynesway and other garden centres.

If you want to get involved and start recycling your garden and food waste, register online in just five minutes!

Grounds Maintenance using Vital Earth compost in a planter
Grounds Maintenance using Vital Earth compost in a planter