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Attwood wastes no time in launching Compost Awareness Week

Environment Minister Alex Attwood wasted no time in calling for people to Rethink their garden waste as he launched Compost Awareness Week.
Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Compost Awareness Week, which takes place from 20 – 30 May aims to encourage more people to realise the benefits of home composting and show just how many every day items can be composted.

Up to a quarter of the average household waste is organic which means that it could be turned in to compost. Yet in 2009/10, 383,000 tonnes of biodegradable waste collected by councils was still buried in landfill sites.

Speaking on the initiative Alex Attwood said: “I am determined that we begin to see waste as the valuable resource that it is, and that we begin to benefit by using it. Composting is a win-win solution for the environment and for your pocket. The production of nutritious compost essentially allows you to feed your garden for free. Compost helps your flower beds and vegetable plots thrive and cuts down on the amount of waste going to landfill.

“Every day items from vegetable peelings, egg shells and tea bags to animal bedding and even the contents of the vacuum cleaner - all can go towards making nutritious compost.”

The Minister continued: “Reducing waste to landfill is something we all have an interest in as failure to meet landfill targets could result in fines totalling £500,000 per day. We need to find better ways to deal with our waste than burying it in a large hole in the ground.

“By 2013 to meet our targets, biodegradable waste going to landfill needs to be reduced to 320, 000 tonnes, so we cannot afford to be complacent. I urge everyone to use Compost Awareness Week as an opportunity to get in to the garden and rethink home composting.”

The Minister also launched a series of unique composting demonstrations aimed at showing how easy it is to compost at home and the type of items that can be composted. These free interactive demonstrations are part of the Department of the Environment’s Rethink Waste campaign and are organised in conjunction with local councils and Conservation Volunteers, who will be on hand with their “Green Machine” to answer all of your composting queries.

Check out the news and events section of or rethinkwasteni on facebook to see if there is a demonstration near you.

Notes to editors:

1. Facts and figures above are from the annual municipal waste stats report 2009/10 & Annex B in the annual NILAS report 2009/10. Both are available at:

2. The Rethink Waste campaign aims to help raise awareness, encourage best practice and achieve behavioural change at home, at work, at school and in the community in order to reduce the amount of waste we send to landfill. Visit for practical tips to Rethink Waste by reducing, reusing and recycling items.

3. The Love Food Hate Waste campaign has also been launched to help “Rethink” food waste. In the UK we spend £12 billion every year buying and then throwing away good food which costs the average family £680 a year equating to around £50 per month. Visit, a new interactive website full of practical tips to reduce food waste, save money and help the environment.

4. Compost Awareness Week will officially be kicked off on Friday 20 May at the Rethink Waste garden at Garden Show Ireland in Hillsborough.

5. Conservation Volunteers is the Northern Ireland operating name for BTCV, the leading UK wide environmental volunteering charity. Working with over 20,000 people per year across Northern Ireland, Conservation Volunteers have 28 years of experience of inspiring people and improving places. Visit

6. All media enquiries should be directed to DOE Communications on 028 9054 0003. Out of office hours, please contact the duty press officer via pager number 07699 715 440 and your call will be returned.

7. Ten facts and stats about the things we can compost:

Around 30 million eggs are eaten in the UK every day. Why not try crushing and composting your egg shells? (British Egg Council) They won’t break down completely but they add a valuable source of calcium to the soil.

UK-wide statistics show that on average each person will consume 103kg of potatoes each year – that’s around 500 medium sized spuds! If we all composted our potato peelings instead of throwing them in the bin, we would be diverting tonnes of waste away from landfill (Potato Council)

They say an apple a day keeps the doctor away but did you know that an apple core a day in your compost bin could divert unnecessary waste away from landfill?

The UK spends £290million a year on carrots. Make the most of this by adding your carrot peelings to the compost bin! (British Carrots)

Did you know that instead of binning all that fluff from your vacuum, you could add it to your compost bin?

Striving to eat your five a day? Fruit and vegetable peelings can all go into the compost bin.

Around 43% of us own a pet. Did you know that bedding from vegetarian pets such as hamsters and guinea pigs can be composted? (Pet Food Manufacturers Association)

If we composted all the suitable food waste produced by UK households we could avoid the equivalent of two million tonnes of CO2 emissions every year

Approximately 70 million cups of coffee are drunk in the UK each day (British Coffee Association). Don’t forget coffee grounds can be composted, alongside the filter paper.

Did you know that lowland peat bogs and their wildlife are threatened through peat extraction for garden composts and other uses? Why not try using peat-free compost this Compost Awareness Week.