Community composting

Community composting is an alternative way to dispose of garden waste. It’s where residents within a defined area take their garden waste to be composted on a specific, designated local site.

There are many benefits of community composting schemes, including:

  • Reducing the amount of garden waste needing disposal and treatment.
  • Helping cut down on the emissions associated with transporting waste. 
  • Providing a valuable community service.
  • Local residents can benefit from the compost created and use this on their gardens, usually for a small donation.  

You can also take your garden waste to a household waste and recycling centre, sign up for the garden waste service or begin home composting.

How to get involved

Why not set up a community composting project?

There are lots of things to consider when setting up a community composting scheme. It can be helpful to think about the process by breaking it down into smaller steps. The information below gives an overview of what these steps are.

How to set up a community composting project

1. Set up an action group or working party

A core group of 2 to 3 enthusiastic volunteers is a good starting point. Begin thinking about your aims for the project and how it will work.

2. Decide how your group will be organised

Some schemes have a formal constitution setting out the aims and details of who is doing what and how. Many community composting sites also have a chairman, treasurer, and secretary to oversee the logistics and finances of the group.

3. Conduct some research

Find out if local people would be interested in a community composting scheme and whether they would like to volunteer. This can be done with surveys, posters, door knocking, small events or through social media.

4. Investigate site options

Pay attention to how close the site is to neighbours, possible environmental impacts such as noise, traffic and where local waterways are. This information will be required by our planning team and the Environment Agency.

5. Contact your local town and parish council

Check if your local town and parish council are interested in supporting the scheme. They may be able to help with publicity and insurance provision. They may also be able to advise you on financing and grants available.

6. Choose an operating model

Think specifically about how the project would work. Community compost sites need to work for a community’s needs. There are various types of community composting and no ‘one-size-fits-all'.  

7. Research other community composting sites

There are several community composting sites that already exist across England. They all have slightly different models which suit their own needs. Consider the different operating styles and what might work for your site. 

8. Site layout and equipment  

Once you have a site in mind, you need to start thinking about the layout and what the site will look like. There are different composting techniques that also need to be considered. Most community composting sites do hot composting.

9. Legal requirements

There are legal requirements that sites must comply with.


You must obtain planning permission. Visit our planning pages for more information on planning regulations and to apply.


It is essential that you get adequate insurance to cover all your activities.

Environmental agency licensing

You must ensure that your community composting scheme satisfies the Environment Agency's requirements under the Environmental Permitting Regulations (England and Wales) 2010.

You will need to apply for a T23 waste exemption for your scheme. Groups should also register as a waste carrier, broker or dealer.

10. Recruit and train volunteers

You will need a good number of volunteers so that the workload is spread fairly and is viable in the long-term. Remember you will also need cover for holidays and sickness.

11. Funding opportunities

Look into funding opportunities and grants that may be available to help cover the initial set-up and ongoing costs. We may be able to help with funding, please contact us for a full version of this guidance at

12. Advertise and publicise the scheme

Create a marketing plan and think about how to utilise social media. It is important the local community is aware of the aims of the scheme and what they can expect from it. This is also an opportunity to find more volunteers.

For further information on community composting, please email us to request our full community composting guidance document at This goes into more detail regarding the support available and the steps above.