Composting is a great way to reduce the amount of food waste you produce. When you compost, you take food scraps from your meals and use them to create a nutritious growing medium for plants. Compost keeps food waste out of landfills and reduces methane emissions. Compost can often replace chemical fertilizers and is great for water retention in soil. But if you use traditional composting methods, there’s a very good chance that you won’t be able to compost all of your leftover cooked food and food scraps.
While there are plenty of compostable items that do great with traditional composting, there are also some organic materials you want to avoid. Meat products like chicken scraps or bones can potentially cause some problems when composting traditionally at home.
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Let's get into why composting meat is an issue, and what you can do about it.
Can you put meat in compost?
According to the EPA, composting meat isn't a good idea, and they suggest avoiding that when composting traditionally. While meat does decompose over time, and meat does have many nutrients that can be highly beneficial to add to the soil, the problems meat causes are not worth the benefits it provides.
However, traditional composting methods aren't your only option, and there are ways for you to safely and easily compost meat scraps at home. For example, Lomi is a small kitchen appliance that uses electricity to help quickly compost organic materials. Unlike traditional composting, Lomi can break down meat scraps fast enough that the problems you get with traditional composting don't occur.
Why can’t you compost meat: 4 potential problems
Meat will decompose over time if you add it to your compost bin simply because it's an organic material. However, there are some very good reasons not to put it in your traditional compost heap.
1. Composting meat smells bad
Nobody likes the odor of rotting meat and composting cooked foods. If you add meat to your compost pile, its distinctive stink will make the pile’s aroma highly unpleasant. Putting meat in your compost bin is going to cause a smelly issue whether it's inside your house or in your backyard. If it's inside, you're now going to have to live with that stench every day, and it could attract any pets you own, who are likely to make a mess out of it.
While just putting your compost pile in your backyard sounds like the right solution, that can also easily create problems. The smell alone could lead to some very upset neighbors, and will likely attract the wrong sort of attention from your local wildlife.
2. Meat in compost attracts pests
One major concern about putting meat in your compost bin is that it can catch the attention of pests. Rats, raccoons, and other mammals are highly attracted to the smell of meat and will begin to frequent your compost pile. Rats, in particular, enjoy compost as a place to nest, and even if you like rats, having them in your compost pile can be a major health concern. It’s also not healthy or safe for the animals when wildlife learns to associate compost piles with food.
3. Meat scraps take longer to break down
Meat is high in protein and fat, both of which take longer to decompose than the simpler carbohydrate structures in plant and yard waste. Adding meat to your compost increases the time it takes to fully decompose and means that you must pay significantly more attention to the pile and its output. This can also lead to parts of your compost pile finishing quicker than others. This in itself just creates more work for you, as you'll need to sift through your finished compost to remove the unfinished meat scraps.
4. Raw meat can contaminate the compost pile
This is the greatest risk when composting meat scraps. While cooked meat is unlikely to cause this problem, raw meat can be contaminated with a number of bacteria that will thrive in the warm, humid environment of a compost heap. These include E. coli, Campylobacter, Salmonella, and Listeria bacteria, all of which are harmful to humans. When a compost pile is contaminated this way, it becomes dangerous to use that compost to fertilize any plants you intend to eat. In terms of your own health, it's essential to avoid traditionally composting raw meat scraps.
Are animal products like dairy and meat bones compostable?
In addition to meat, some other animal products should be avoided when composting traditionally for various health and safety reasons. Because dairy products are also high in fat and protein, they have similar issues with decomposition. And just like with meat scraps, dairy products lead to strong smells that will be unpleasant and attract animal attention.
Meat bones are another item that cannot be composted traditionally. Bones are simply too dense, especially beef and pork bones. These can take hundreds of years to decompose if left buried. For large bones, there’s just not enough microbial penetration in the traditional composting process for decomposition to occur. Bones are also even more appealing to wildlife than meat due to their high nutrient content– animals are driven to chew bones for the minerals within.
While meat bones and dairy are best avoided when composting traditionally, just like with meat scraps, there are ways for you to compost them at home. Lomi is easily capable of breaking down both dairy products and small bones. If these are items you find you’re often throwing away, having a Lomi will make it so you can compost them instead, preventing them from ending up in a landfill.
Egg shells are another animal product you might want to avoid, as it's not easy to compost egg shells using traditional compost methods. Egg shells are extremely stable and do not break down well with microbial action alone. While egg shells are notably high in calcium and can be extremely beneficial to include in your soil, these require additional preparation via drying and crushing to use in regular compost.
Try Lomi - a safe and convenient way to compost meat at home
If you do eat meat and want to compost meat scraps, there are safe and convenient ways to do so. Some cities, like Minneapolis and San Francisco, have commercial composting facilities as public utilities which are capable of composting meat. But, if you don't have composting facilities available, or you'd prefer to do all your composting at home, that's still possible! Pela's Lomi is a powerful kitchen appliance that can break down most organic material, including meat and other animal products.
Unlike traditional compost, Lomi’s fast action doesn’t give meat scraps and other animal products the time to start rotting. Instead, Lomi’s grinders fragment your food waste, while heat and oxygen encourage water reduction and decomposition. Because the process is accelerated and entirely self-contained, meat and all other animal products (except for large bones) can be processed in Lomi.
Lomi’s end product is high-quality nutrient-rich dirt that's a great addition to the soil in your garden. Depending on the mode, Lomi can produce the nutrient-dense soil amendment in about twenty hours. Lomi is a true home composter designed for sustainability and the needs of your lifestyle.
If being able to compost meat at home while receiving a daily supply of natural fertilizer sounds perfect to you, you can check out Lomi! You can order one online, or just learn more about how Lomi can improve your life while you improve your environmental impact.
Written by: Sereana Simpson