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Envirocycle Composter- Composteamaker FAQ

 

How do you use the system a Quick Guide

 

Why compost?
Composting kitchen, home office, garden and household organic waste is one of the most environmentally beneficial activities you can participate in. It reduces pollution, cuts down on landfill and saves money. 30% of domestic rubbish is organic waste, it's removal from our bins allows other materials to be recycled, making composting the starting point of all good “urbanwaste” systems.

What is compost?

Is it Peat?
No. Peat is harvested from peat bogs formed by the decomposition of plant materials over a long period of time. Peat is a limited resource material that is non-renewable and used mainly by the nursery industry as a soil-less potting medium.

Is it a mulch?
No and Yes. Mulch is versatile, and can be used as an inorganic or organic ground cover. Mulch can be made from pebbles, straw, shredded paper, bark, wood-chips, plastic, etc., which can be helpful in retaining moisture. Compost can be used as high-quality mulch, especially around new transplants. Compost is biologically active and contains nutrients, which add to the benefit of using mulch.

Is compost a chemical fertilizer?
No. Commercial fertilizers do not contain any organic matter and are composed of specific proportions of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium (sometimes other nutrients) that are soluble and readily available to plants.

Is compost a soil?
No. Soil is the foremost layer of the earth, and is composed of various proportions of sand, silt, clay, and small amounts of organic material. Rich soil containing compost typically outperforms other soil types.

Compost is?
A mature compost is a stable humus material created by the decomposition of organic material in a controlled environment. Controlling temperature, moisture and oxygen to achieve quick decomposition and allowing the finished material to fully stabilize or mature through a curing period, the finished compost will not overheat during use or give off unpleasant odors. 

What can I compost?
Almost anything organic (that's to say once lived). Left over vegetable scraps, fruit, grass cuttings and vegetable peelings provide nitrogen rich compostable materials while paper, straw, cardboard and chipped wood provide the carbon rich material. Human and pet waste, oils, fats, dairy products, meat fish and bone all require special treatment and should not enter domestic urban compost systems. That leaves just about everything else that's not plastic, metal, glass. Have a look at the compostable materials guide for a more comprehensive list of suitable materials.

                    

How much waste will the system compost?
With its small profile 0.2 cubic meter drum and quick four-to -six week composting cycle, add the ability to compost all year round the result is almost 2 cubic meters of free nutrient rich compost a year. House plants, gardens or even friends will appreciate this byproduct. Even more remarkable, if you account for a fifty percent reduction of the original waste during the composting process, that's 4000 Litres (16.5 UK standard wheelie bins) a year, 30% of your weekly refuse collection environmentally removed.
 

Will the System smell?
Compost starts to give off bad odours when excess water fills the voids between the composting materials impeding the diffusion of oxygen through the compost and leading to anaerobic conditions. Mixing in additional bulking agent such as dry wood chips, cardboard pieces, straw or newspaper strips is likely to alleviate the problem. When you rotate the drum the composting materials are aerated and remixed, excess liquid can constantly drain off providing the compost tea captured in the base. Your composter should have a pleasant earthy smell, like a fresh wet garden after rain.

How long does it take to complete the composting process?
A number of factors effect the decomposing process, include temperature, moisture, oxygen, particle size, carbon-to-nitrogen ratio and the efficiency of ventilation ie: aeration. Compost can be produced as quickly as three weeks, the norm for busy urbanites would be batches of six weeks. 

How important is the C:N Raito?
Depending on the required result the C:N ratio can play an important role in the speed and quality of the finished compost. The closer you get to starting the composting process with the correct C:N ratio (30:1), partial size and moisture content, the better the environment for the "micro-heard" of organisms to perform. Test out the compost calculator to help you get a good mix. If time is not an issue just throw your waste in approximately 50% browns (carbon) -to- 50% greens (Nitrogen) and let nature do its best.                         

                      

Should I shred my waste first?
Shredding the raw carbon materials produces several beneficial results, the ingredients become more susceptible to beneficial bacteria use a greater surface area is exposed. Moreover, a piece of solid wood or tightly packed clump of leaves will take much longer to compost than small particles of materials. Shredding the material makes it more homogenous, produces better aeration and controls moisture. Shredded ingredients heat up more uniformly and produce a more manageable end product. As a rule there’s no need to shred nitrogen rich green materials, as these will normally have a high moisture content and will breakdown very quickly.

Particle size?
No ideal particle size, but around 1 to 2 inches of irregular shapes is best. In some cases such as in grass clippings, the raw material may be too dense to permit adequate air flow. A common solution to this problem is to add a bulking agent (straw, dry leaves, paper, cardboard) to allow for improved air flow. Mixing materials of different sizes and textures helps keeps the contents aerated.

Why is moisture so critical to compost?  
An efficient Composter needs to have a moisture content of around 60% (feels like a wet sponge) If the moisture content falls much below 40%, many of the micro -organisms will cease to function, under-watering is the single most common factor effecting slow composting. Moisture content above 70% may cause the pile to go anaerobic, thereby producing foul odors, over-watering is the number one cause of this. Remember when the composting materials are squeezed, just a few drop of water should come out. If your worried about your judgment a low cost soil moisture indicator can be used.

Why should you add soil to your mix?
A couple of handfuls of soil will inoculate the compost mix introducing millions of microorganisms to the contents, most added material, mainly greens, will also add micro bacteria to the mix, but there's no harm in giving nature a helping hand.  


  •  Collect Kitchen/garden waste, card and paper in a suitable container, like our kitchen bucket fitted with a compostable bin liners. Prepare waste as you see fit.

  • Deposit the prepared waste into the composter drum by opening the door and simply throwing it in, try to fill the unit 3/4 full.

  • Close and lock the door and rotate the drum on its base a couple of rotation.

  • Continue to add waste and rotate the drum as required. (minimum every three days).

  • After four-to-five weeks stop adding waste for one week but continue to turn the drum.

  • After the finishing off week, remove drum from base, roll to required location, remove lid and empty. 

  • Small quantities of compost can be removed by hand without removing the drum if need be.

How do I collect and utilize the compost tea?
Just remove the drum form the base, unscrew the drain cap and pour the liquid into a suitable container. Due to its high concentration of nutrients, dilute the compost tea with ten parts water (10/1) and feed any plant life from indoor plants to garden lawns, sit back and watch the results with amazement.  

What kind of paper and card can be composted?
Large amounts of newspaper and cardboard should enter the well developed recycling markets along with Glossy, shinny magazines. There’s lots of paper and card that isn't suitable for recycling that ends up in your waste system and could be composted. These include office, computer paper, old envelopes (remove the plastic window and sticky strips first), ripped up cereal packets, toilet roll cylinders, cardboard egg boxes and tissue paper. Avoid frozen food packaging and cartons used to hold liquids, as these are often bi-material, lined with a thin film of plastic or foil. These urban waste need to be shredded to accelerate their decomposition and avoid clumping together and restricting ventilation. 

Can I empty my vacuum cleaner into the composter? 
Yes you can, but vacuum dust tends to be very dry and difficult to rehydrate so make sure you add water if needed. Most household dust consists of skin particles which will readily decompose. However, the synthetic fibers found in most modern carpets will not decompose and will be present in the finished compost.

Why the profile slots around the drum?
These are to help you grip the drum while rotating it on its base, if you prefer just rock the drum back and forth or lock the hatch, roll the drum off its base and simply roll the drum and contents along the garden.

How often should I turn my compost drum? 
As often as you like, the manufactures recommendation is three times a week. This is compost pile turning with no mess, less effort and no digging. 

What happens if the Bin freezes?
The process of decomposition will slow down or even stops with freezing. During a hard freeze if the content are frozen cease rotating the drum. Restart after the thaw, it's believed that this can even aid composting.

Do I need to use a temperature gauge?
Strictly just to produce compost No! But be careful the compost can and should reach temperatures upwards of 70oC-1600F, enough to leave a nasty superficial burn on your skin. If you want a serious record of your composting or an accrete indicator of when to rotate the drum then you need a compost temperature gauge.

Do I need to protect myself when handling compost?
Not unless you are composting manure, but good gardening practices of wearing protective gloves and washing hand after use is sensible.

Why should you add soil to the mix?
A couple of handfuls of soil will inoculate the compost mix introducing millions of microorganisms to the contents, most added material, mainly greens, will also add micro bacteria to the mix, but there's no harm in giving nature a helping hand.  

 

Urbanwaste Composter Project.

Why have you feature this system?
Our urban composting project aims to utilize the best urban composting system, the Envirocycle compost/ composteamaker, and apply scientific principles with currently available technologies, in order to produce a rapid bioreactor composter. Our objective is to efficiently reducing the composting duration of kitchen (nitrogen rich food waste) and urban (carbon rich paper and kraft waste). This is a research and development project to enable increased knowledge of home composting wholly funded by Urbancomposting Ltd.

When can we find out more?
We intend to publish the results openly on this web-site for all to gain a better insight into urbancomposting. Unfortunately we are unable to market this product, but thought it worthwhile demonstrating our abilities within this field. 

Can we purchase this unit? 
It may be possible that a conversion kit will be available in the future but only after further comprehensive research and economic valuations. 

Features

  • All the feature of the amazing Envirocycle two-in-one Composter/Composteamaker
  • Plus
  • Internal mixing bar
  • Liquid runoff re-oxygenation system
  • Internal electric sump pump and filter
  • Auto pumped base tank, no need to lift base to access the compost tea
  • 100% solar powered
  • Fitted high quality 3" dial compost thermometer
  • Return hose, stop cock and swivel
  • x2 150mm2 6v Polycrystaline 1.5W solar panels 

Can we see this system?
Unfortunately we can not accommodate visitors and for commercial reasons can not demonstrate the system. However we hope to publish more information in the near future including some web based images. 

What happens now?
We hope you can appreciate the concept and bear with us, as we all live and learn. The exciting and fantastic Envirocycle compost/ composteamaker is available from us, this system we regard as the optimum in aerobic home composting equipment currently marketed to date.