Urban gardeners and city dwellers might think they’re limited on choice when it comes to compost bins, but we’re here to prove that isn’t the case.
There’s plenty of composters out there that fit the bill of being compact, efficient and odourless.
We’ve rounded up the best urban composters for every situation, including balcony composting, indoor composting and composting in a small garden.
If you hadn’t already guessed from the name, the worm factory 360 is a vermicomposter. Worms eat any food scraps you put in, digest them and then pass them out as worm castings. The worm castings make a rich, nutritional compost!
You can place the worm bin inside or outside. It’s an odourless, mess-free system, so it’s even suitable for small apartments. Because the worms do most of the work, this bin is also an excellent choice for time-pressured city dwellers. All you have to do is feed them once a week and harvest the compost every 3-6 months.
We like the worm factory 360 because it has a built-in tray to collect any liquid runoff (worm tea) with a siphon tap for easy collection. Worm tea makes a great organic liquid fertilizer.
The bin is well designed, so you don’t have to worry about worms escaping. The stackable trays make it easy to harvest the finished compost. And you can expand the farm if you need more capacity without it taking up any more space. The standard bin comes with four trays, and you can purchase an additional four trays. The manufacturer claims this gives it the largest volume with the smallest footprint of any home worm farm.
The bin doesn’t come with worms so you’ll need to purchase them separately. We recommend uncle Jims worms. We’ve always used these worms and have never had any problems.
If you want to learn more about vermicomposting then check out our guide to composting with worms which will tell you everything you need to know.
Self-professed to be the ‘cutest composter in the world’, the Envirocycle compost bin won’t look out of place on your balcony. If you’re feeling brave, they also offer it in hot pink.
The base of the composter is a liquid collection tray. This is great if you’re using it on a balcony where the liquid can’t just seep into the ground as it would in a garden. The tray has a small tap for you to collect the compost juice if you want to use it to make compost tea.
The drum rests on wheels which makes it super easy to rotate and churn your compost, making sure it gets enough oxygen. This helps speed up the composting process. Quick composting is vital when you’re short on space.
The bin is made from food-grade, BPA free plastic and comes in two sizes. 17 gallons, which is perfect for an individual or couple, and 35 gallons which is more suitable to a small family.
The Envirocycle is slightly more expensive than other options. But we think the high-quality design makes it worth it, and many reviewers agree. Other compost bins that are designed for use at the end of a garden can afford to leak a little bit, balcony compost bins cant and your Envirocycle won’t. The leak-proof drum also means the bin doesn’t attract any annoying pests such as flies and rodents.
This is a really cool, eco-friendly product that allows you to combine composting with growing stuff in one vessel – ideal for space-saving in an apartment.
The brand aims to bring nature into urban homes and make composting possible for city dwellers.
The modern-looking container works as a vermicomposter. It uses worms to accelerate the decomposition of your food waste just as they would in their natural habitat. Over time the soil in the vessel will turn into a nutrient-packed compost that you can use to feed plants. You can also remove the compost from the vessel and use it to fertilize other plants around your house.
There’s an observation window so you can easily monitor the conditions in your bio vessel and see how the worms are getting on. And you also get a moisture and pH checker included.
Its sleek-looking design is a bonus for anyone wanting to keep it on their kitchen counter. But it doesn’t just look pretty. The inventors used data to shape the bin so that it helps the worms work as efficiently as possible.
Bokashi is the new kid on the block and a great innovation for indoor composting.
Unlike standard aerobic composting, bokashi is an anaerobic process meaning it needs to be devoid of oxygen. One of the best ways to get rid of oxygen is to squish things into the smallest space possible, making Bokashi bins very space-efficient. You can even keep them on your kitchen counter – and don’t worry, they don’t smell!
The anaerobic microbes ferment your food scraps, including things you can’t usually compost like meat, dairy and oily foods, and you end up with a mixture of pickled organic matter.
The downside to bokashi bins is that the output isn’t finished compost. You need to either bury the fermented matter in a garden, put it in an existing compost bin, or give it away. Your local compost pick up service should happily take it.
Bokashi bins work well with regular compost bins or worm bins because the pickled food breaks down much faster than fresh scraps.
We like this particular bokashi bin because it comes with a built-in siphon tap for you to collect the leachate. And you get some Bokashi bran included, which is the inoculant you need to mix with your food scraps.
If you’re lucky enough to have a small garden, then you can use an outdoors composter.
We recommend going for a compost tumbler rather than a stationary bin because they have added features that make the composting process faster. Fast composting is important if you only have a small space.
This compost tumbler from FCMP claims you can have compost in as little as two weeks! The eight-sided chamber is lined with spikes that efficiently break up and mix the compost with lots of oxygen when you turn the drum.
It’s dual-chambered, which is great for urban environments because it means you can continually fill the bin up. When one side is curing, you can use the other side to store food scraps.
Another plus for small gardens is that the tumbler is lifted off the ground, meaning it won’t attract any rodents.
These countertop compost bins are a neat solution to a common problem city dwellers face. Where should I store my food scraps before I compost them or give them away?
This bin is made from one sheet of stainless steel, meaning it’s 100% leak-proof. And it’s effortless to clean since there’s no joins for food to get stuck in.
The airtight lid combined with a vented charcoal filter stops any smells from escaping, so the bin is suitable for you to keep inside. And fruit flies aren’t a problem.
Designed to be able to fit on a kitchen countertop the bin measures just 7.16” in diameter x 11” in height. We find it’s big enough to hold several days of waste before it we need to empty it.
This neat little device dehydrates food then grinds it up, reducing its volume by up to 90%. The lid is fitted with charcoal filters which will absorb any smells that may try to escape.
Once you’ve put the food waste in this machine will turn it into a useful soil amendment in just 3 hours! This means you don’t have to worry about having extra space to store your food waste before you compost it.
You also don’t have to worry about storing up ‘brown materials’ to balance out your food waste since the composter works with no additive.
While the output of the composter isn’t technically compost, you can still use straight away as if it was compost. The only time we recommend not using the soil amendment straight away is if you put meat or dairy in the composter.
If you rehydrate the meat too soon, it can attract flies.
Whatever your living situation, we hope we’ve inspired you to start composting.
The best urban composters don’t take up much room and produce compost fast without smelling or making a mess.
If you’ve come up with a different way of composting in a city, be sure to let us know!