Updated for 2019!

The Garden Recycling Scheme 2019 is now open for registration.

Free collections of garden and food waste are starting again this April, so register today to recycle your twigs, leaves, grass, flowers and food with simple, hassle-free kerbside collections. You can find all the information you need about the scheme and register on the Garden Recycling Scheme page on our website.

But once we have collected your garden waste, where does it go and what happens to it?

This article explains how your garden waste is transformed into a workable new product.

Garden waste at Vital Earth

Collecting and cleaning

From your kerbside, we take your garden waste to Vital Earth – a recycling site in Ashbourne.

When it arrives, anything that cannot be composted (plastic, clothing, metals… you name it, Vital Earth has seen it!) is removed. Please don’t put these items in your brown bin to start with, as they can cause damage at the site. You should only use your bin for compostable garden waste.


All fresh and clean, the waste is given a bit of water. It is then 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.

Composting vessels at Vital Earth

This heat kills off any harmful pathogens (like salmonella or E. coli) as well as 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.

This heat also speeds up the composting process. A regular domestic 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.


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 6–8 weeks.

Once it has properly matured, the compost is separated into groups by the different sizes of the crumbs. 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

Garden recycling at Vital Earth

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

Each batch is numbered, which means the staff at Vital Earth can trace it back to exactly when it was delivered and where it came from. This means we can see which batch has come from specific collection rounds.

Please visit our website to sign up for the Garden Recycling Scheme 2019.