Other organic waste recycling methods | Brisbane City Council

Other organic waste recycling methods

Recycling your organic waste and be rewarded with valuable compost and mulch for your garden while living more sustainably. Find other organic recycling methods including the fermentation system known as Bokashi, worm towers, trench composting and no-dig gardening.

Fermentation system (Bokashi)

This is an anaerobic method for recycling organic waste. It is suitable for small families or people living in units or small houses. All food scraps including items such as meat, and bread can be processed using this system. “Bokashi” is a Japanese word meaning “to ferment”. Waste that is added to the bokashi bin is prevented from putrefying through the addition of a bokashi mixture and is then buried in the garden or placed in a compost bin. As material is already fermented it will break down extremely quickly.

Bokashi buckets can be purchased at hardware or garden shops or can be made at home by getting 2 equal sized buckets and placing one inside the other. Drill holes in the bottom of the top bucket to allow the liquid to drain through and add a tap to the bottom bucket to remove the liquid as required. Place a tight fitting lid on the top bucket.

How to use the bokashi system

  1. Add kitchen scraps to bokashi bucket
  2. Sprinkle a handful of bokashi mix over the waste (this is a wheat product infused with EM (Effective Micro-Organisms) which allows it to ferment without rotting. This is available at hardware and garden stores.
  3. Use a potato masher to push down the contents to minimise air exposure.
  4. Close lid tightly.
  5. Once or twice a week drain liquid from the bottom of the bucket. This liquid can be used as a fertiliser after mixing with water in a ratio of approximately one teaspoon of bokashi to 2 or 3 litres of water. Alternatively, it can be used undiluted to clean household drains.
  6. Keep adding food scraps and bokashi mix until the bucket is full. For an average family this will take approximately 3 to 4 weeks.
  7. Leave the bucket for 10 to 14 days for materials to ferment. Continue to drain off liquid regularly. After this time you will notice that food appears pickled and smells vinegary. It may also occasionally have a white fungi growth.
  8. Contents can now be buried in a hole in the garden or added to a compost bin or worm farm. As material is fermented it will break down within 2 to 3 weeks and add will provide a wonderful fertiliser for your garden.

Bokashi bin ingredients

What can go in a bokashi bin:

  • fresh fruit and vegetables,
  • cooked foods
  • meat and fish
  • cheese
  • eggs
  • bread
  • coffee grinds & tea bags
  • wilted flowers
  • tissues.

AVOID these ingredients:

  • liquids e.g milk, juice
  • paper
  • plastic
  • large bones

Worm towers

Worm tubes are a great way to add nutrients to raised garden beds or plant pots. They consist of a piece of PVC pipe or a bucket without a base, but with a tight fitting lid. Tubes are buried in the garden and fruit and vegetable scraps are placed inside the tube. Compost worms turn the food into worm castings and worm juice and increase the fertility of the soil.  A number of worm towers can be placed in different sites around the garden as required.


  1. Take a length of PVC pipe and drill some holes around the base of it.
  2. Bury the pipe about 10cm into the garden.
  3. Add some composting worms (available for purchase online).
  4. Add fruit and vegetable scraps as required.
  5. Place a tight fitting lid on the top of the worm tube.

Trench composting

Scraps are buried in the garden and decompose into the soil, feeding the plants and providing food for worms.

  1. Dig a trench or hole approximately 25cms deep into the garden. 
  2. Add fruit and vegetable scraps, cover over with soil and allow the waste to break down.  To discourage creatures such as dogs or rodents from digging up the food scraps add a strip of wire netting over scraps before covering with soil.

No-dig gardening

Carbon and nitrogen materials are layered directly onto the soil to create a raised garden for planting. Limited amounts of food scraps can also be included in the nitrogen material. The most common materials for no-dig gardens are lucerne straw, manure, compost, paper and grass clippings. These should be built in layers and built up to a minimum depth of 30cm. Plants and seeds may then be planted into pockets of compost or potting mix within the material. The materials will gradually break down and provide a rich growing medium for the plants to spread their roots into. Continually top up the garden with more carbon and nitrogen materials as it sinks down over time.


Pets such as chickens, guinea pigs and dogs can play a key role in reducing your household's organic waste output.

Chickens are one of the most popular and efficient of all bio-recycling household pets. Each month, a chicken will consume approximately its own body weight in feed and kitchen scraps. Chicken manure is one of the richest of all animal manures, containing high levels of nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium. 

It's important to consider the dietary needs of your bio-recycling pet/s to ensure they receive adequate nutrition and their digestive systems remain healthy. It's best to seek advice from your vet before changing the diet of your pet.

Find out about keeping chickens and poultry in Brisbane.

More information

If you'd like to find out more about composting and organic waste recycling, attend one of our free compost and worm farm workshops.

04 October 2017