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6 Alternatives To Composting Piles: Put Kitchen Waste To Use

6 Alternatives To Composting Piles: Put Kitchen Waste To Use

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Paul Brown

Composting offers a lot of benefits for recycling kitchen waste and creating nutrient-rich soil, but if you lack the space or just don’t want to deal with an unsightly pile in your back yard, what are the best alternatives besides tossing them in the trash to go to a landfill? The right solution for you will depend on why you are seeking an alternative but here are several creative ideas for making use of organic material without starting a compost pile

Alternatives to traditional composting:

  • In-ground composting
  • Start a Bokashi bin
  • Use A Food Recycler
  • Worm farming
  • Food Recycling center
  • Give kitchen waste away to someone who can use it.

My daughter and I had this discussion recently because she lives in an apartment and doesn’t have a yard for a compost pile. Whatever your reason, chances are at least one of these alternatives will work for you.

In-Ground Composting

Yes, it is still technically composting as are a few other solutions listed here, but there is a key difference between traditional composting and these alternatives. Compost piles generally require some level of ongoing maintenance – turning the piles, transporting finished compost to a garden or flowerbed, etc. But this approach is a set-it-and-forget-it method that I’ve used for over two years in my own yard and continue to this day.

In-ground composting is a passive approach to infusing nutrient-rich organic material into your soil. You simply dig a hole, drop the kitchen waste in, and cover it up. You don’t have to maintain it, you don’t even have to think about it. It’s once-and-done.

For more information, read our article on several In-Ground Composting methods and the unique advantages this approach offers to make use of kitchen waste.

Start A Bokashi Bin

This isn’t usually the most cost-effective approach to making use of kitchen waste, but it is an option. This is a process of fermentation that can be done indoors without foul odors thanks to its anaerobic approach that allows you to keep the scraps in an air-tight container. You also don’t have to stress over the nitrogen-carbon ratios as you do with traditional composting.

You can buy a complete Bokashi starter kit (link to Amazon) and compost kitchen scraps indoors without ever having to turn a big pile of compost. This is becoming a popular composting method for people living in apartments since it does not require a yard and can be done indoors.

For more information on the pros and cons of Bokashi, read our overview of Indoor Composting Methods.

Use A Food Recycler

If composting is off the table because of a lack of space, time, or just general lack of interest, you should probably consider a food recycler like the Food Cycler Indoor Food Recycler and Kitchen Compost Container (link to Amazon). This is one of the more fascinating solutions that have been developed for managing kitchen waste.

Although the company labels their food recycler as an indoor composting appliance, it isn’t really composting the food; it’s dehydrating and sterilizing it. It’s an elegant solution that would look at home on a kitchen counter.

Here are just a few of the benefits of this device:

  • An odorless carbon filtration system
  • No chemicals or other additives required
  • Removable basket for easy cleaning
  • Allows for meat, bones, and other items not normally suited for a compost bin
  • One button-push operation
  • Finishes within a few hours and shuts off automatically
  • No special venting or draining required
  • Completed food products can be applied directly to plant or garden soil.

Overall, this is probably one of the most innovative solutions for someone living in an apartment or who just doesn’t want to deal with a compost pile. It’s not cheap by any means but it does provide a sustainable way to recycle food products without ever leaving the kitchen and that has quite a bit of appeal.

Click Here To Check The Latest Pricing On The Food Cycler (Link To Amazon)

Here’s a video overview from the manufacturer that outlines the benefits and features of the Food Cycler (after a short introduction on food waste and the hassles of composting):

The Food Cycler - Indoor Composter - No Food Waste

When compared to traditional composting that can take 30 days or more, the 3-hour cycle for this appliance is quite impressive.

Worm Farming

If you are tight on money and space but still want the benefits of composting, worm farming has become a personal favorite of mine that I can wholeheartedly recommend. Click here for our top recommended worm bins.

worm farm alternative to composting

You can create a DIY worm bin or buy one designed for the purpose. Toss in some shredded paper and cardboard for the bedding, add food and worms, and you are off and running. You can even buy the worms on Amazon and have them delivered right to your door!

I’ve had some trials and tribulations in learning vermicomposting but most of those were of my own doing. Adding too much food at one time, keeping the bed too moist or not moist enough, and just not understanding how to keep the worms content and feeding. But I’ve already made those mistakes so that you don’t have to. If you are interested in getting started with worm farming, read through my articles on vermicomposting that cover the troubleshooting I’ve done and how I learned to keep my worm bin in balance.

Food Recycling Center

So maybe none of this is appealing to you. Maybe you don’t want your kitchen waste going to a landfill but beyond that, you really don’t want to deal with it at all. Well, there are a couple of options for you, depending on where you live.

If you are in a city, it is possible that there is a recycling center near you that will happily take that kitchen waste off your hands. This is not the same as recycling centers for plastics, etc. These are centers where food waste from homes and restaurants is intentionally diverted from landfills. You can check availability in your area on the EPA’s website where they have an interactive map of centers listed by state.

Give It Away

Even if you don’t live in a city where a food recycling center is available, you can still put kitchen waste to use by giving it to someone who can make use of it. Local farmers are often happy to take those scraps off your hands to keep their pigs and chickens. Local gardeners may welcome the donation for their own compost projects.

Just ask around. Chances are you can find someone who will happily take it off your hands.


The EPA estimates that roughly one-fifth of landfill waste is food products. You have a lot of options for making good use of kitchen scraps. Consider the ideas listed here and choose the solution that works best for you. Whether you live in an apartment in the city or just don’t want to mess with a traditional compost pile, there are alternatives to composting for everyone.

Click Here To Read Is Composting Worth It? Key Insights And Considerations