Bread Wastage

Bread Tops the list of wasted foods in the UK with  almost 900,000 tonnes thrown away. That amounts to  about  24 million slices, or 1 million loaves, every day. Obviously, the objective must be to reduce the waste, buying only what is needed,  storing it correctly and making use of stale bread and bread products. The little that will be left should be composted not sent to landfill.

Bread can be composted!

The general advice is that bread products, including bread, buns, cakes, cobs/rolls, cookies, crackers, donuts, noodles, pasta, pizza crusts, other baked goods or anything made of flour should not be composted in a conventional bin or heap even though bread and bread products are plant based and will decompose quite quickly particularly, if torn in small pieces or crumbs[R1] . The concern is that they may attract rodents and other pests. However, bread has been cold composted  without problems when buried the  in the middle of the bin, or heap, and  covered with a layer of “Browns” e.g., dry leaves, sawdust, shredded paper and then with a layer of soil or manure. If using this approach, the heap should be  monitored closely  and if it the is any evidence of rodents and other animal pests being attracted to the bin no further bread is added.

 As the problem is attracting rodents not the actual composting process, the more cautious advice  the would  be that bread and bread products should not be composted unless the compost bin is rat proof. This means that it is not advisable to attempt to compost such items in an open pile or heap or in a plastic mounted on soil without a rat proof base. Solid sided wooden New Zealand bins, especially those situated on a concrete base, using with the correct Green/Brown balance, regularly turned to maintain the operation temperature and create a hostile environment for rats have been maintained rat free very successfully when cols composting .

Hot composting techniques have been used in  pallet and New Zealand bins that  are not completely rodent proof to composted bread, without having a rat problem.  Hot composting techniques require more time and effort than cold composting techniques and it is recommended that experience is gained by using hot composting on uncooked kitchen and garden waste using a New Zealand bin before attempting the composting of cooked food including bread and bread products.  

The Compost bin should be at least three feet wide and three feet high, slightly larger if possible up to a maximum of 5 feet. Bins larger than this involve a lot of work if  the material is to be turned manually. A bank of three bins makes turning easier[R2]  as the material can be moved from one bin to another using the first two bins.

Alternative a compost designed to process cooked food should be used such as a Hotbin, Green Johanna or Jora.  Of these the Jora  or Joraform (in the UK), tumbler bin,  has the advantage of being made of metal and is mounted on legs off the ground.