Hello and welcome to The Compost Bin. I'm Compostwoman and I live with my family in rural Herefordshire. We have nearly four acres of garden and woodland, all managed organically and to Permaculture principles, which we share with Chickens, Cats and assorted wildlife. We also grow a lot of our own food, run courses in all sorts of things and make a lot of compost!

I am a Master Composter and have spent more than a decade as a volunteer Community Compost adviser with Garden Organic and my local Council.
I'm a self employed Environmental Educator so I run workshops and events where I talk about compost, veg growing, chicken keeping, cooking, preserving and sustainable living. I also run crafts workshops and Forest School/outdoor play sessions in our wood.

We try to live a more self sufficient lifestyle here, as best we can, while still having a comfortable life and lots of fun.

To learn more about us click on the About Compostwoman tab and remember to click on the photos to make them full size!

Friday 24 October 2008


I don't know how many of you spotted recently an article in The Telegraph , or read about it on The Recycle Works blog, but there are a set of proposals out for consultation from DEFRA about waste management exemptions. BUT they also have serious implications for charity, not for profit and school composting operations!

This is from their website.
Defra, the Welsh Assembly Government and the Environment Agency are undertaking a review of the waste exemptions from environmental permitting. The aim of the review is to provide a more risk based and proportionate approach to the regulation of waste recovery and disposal operations, complementing the new environmental permitting regime. The consultation includes a number of proposed measures aimed at increasing the use of exemptions for as wide a range as possible of low risk activities (including most of those operating under an Environment Agency low risk position) whilst removing or restricting the availability of the exemptions for higher risk waste operations by seeking to regulate higher risk operations through one or more standard permits. The consultation also seeks views on a partial impact assessment and a draft set of regulations.

At the moment there are lots of different exemptions to do with small scale handling of waste, which are applied to charities/not for profit bodies in their activities.

One of the many things contained in these proposals is a plan for everybody who handles any kind of waste under an exemption from licencing etc at the moment, to register for an exemption to their waste operations AND pay a fee for doing so.

This would include charitable and not for profit bodies.

Composting is a waste activity which is either licenced (if done on a BIG scale by business) or classed as exempt at the moment.

Home composting of domestic compostable waste will still be fine and is not apparently part of this consultation.

BUT these new proposals suggest a registration scheme for everybody else, with a fee payable, for ANY activity which is exempt, renewable every three years.

So potentially that means the composting bins at a school could have to apply to be exempted AND pay a fee (suggested at £50, apparently) so as to do composting.

I think this is a bit silly!

I have sent in a comment, I add it in below and please feel free to copy it and use it with what ever amendments you wish...

My name is ************ ; I am a keen organic gardener and home composter.

I am also a Master Composter (a volunteer Community Composter advisor) working with my local council and Garden Organic. This scheme, as you are aware, is co promoted and supported by WRAP, a government sponsored and funded body.

I also volunteer to help and advise at a local school in their organic garden, where the children, teachers and I make a lot of compost as part of our gardening activities. Composting is also a big part of many schools activities to gain their Green Flag award with the Eco Schools movement.

I am therefore VERY concerned that there are proposals to make schools, charities and not for profit groups register and pay to be exempt from the new regulations being considered in this consultation.

This seems to me to be a very shortsighted idea. Composting is being promoted and compost bins and wormeries offered at discount prices by Councils and WRAP as a means of diverting compostable material from landfill. In many areas schools receive free compost bins, wormeries and advice. To therefore suggest a charge be levied on such activities is frankly NOT " joined up thinking" in my opinion.

A charge or even registration may well put off charities or not for profit bodies from starting new composting schemes OR cause then to halt existing ones. Schools and many small charities have no funds to pay for such a charge; indeed why should they be expected to?

I hope that you will reconsider this aspect of the proposed regulations and exempt not for profit organisation (including schools) and charities from having to register and pay for an exemption.

Yours faithfully

*********** B.Eng. (Hons)

PLEASE everyone, it is NOT too late to respond to the consultation which contains this proposal!

The deadline WAS 23 Oct but apparently submissions WILL be accepted until the end of Oct (according to an email I have recieved from the Community Composting Network...)

So , IF you want to know more go to this site to read the full consultation document.

It DOESN'T just cover composting but ALL waste activities!

If you want to have sight of the Community Composting Network's response to DEFRA, see here for their full reply to the proposals.......

and if you want to submit a comment email exemptions@defra.gsi.gov.uk before the end of Oct or a.s.a.p.

PLEASE! We NEED to act on this NOW!


  1. They have to be out of their minds how on earth are schools or any other charity or not for profit organisation supposed to afford this. My particular involvement is at a local primary school where my son & I give our time for free as pond wardens and looking after their wildlife area trying to create a better environment for the youngest school aged children showing them what can be achieved (my children no longer attend this school).
    I spend my own money on bits and pieces that we need to do this and ask the school for probably less than £50 a year for larger items which has to be justified against books & building work etc...
    We would not be able to get the children into this way of thinking at this very important age if this was to happen...

  2. Same here Dean..I find it UN BELIEVABLE that thesame government which funds free or discounted compostbins and wormeries to schools can even suggest charging then for exemption permisions to acually use them........

    I feel bad that I didn't spot this sooner, but I really hadn't noticed the small scale implications of this consultation document.....

    THANK YOU for helping... xxxxxx

  3. This is outrageous!! I have now sent an email to Defra, I personalised your letter to my own specifications...
    Lets hope others join in which I am sure they will and it will go towards making a difference!!! And get the (bleeps) to listen!!
    I am astounded by it all... who thinks these insane ideas up????
    Thanks for your comment on a previous post of mine regarding joining INEBG, will join asap and thanks you for being so helpful.. its much appreciated!!
    Love Jane xxx

  4. It really does seem absurd that people should pay if they are exempt from needing a licence. It's akin to expecting someone without a TV to pay a fee to confirm that they don't need a TV licence or a non-driver paying a fee to say they don't need a driving licence.
    As an allotment holder I am also concerned that our site or even worse individual plot holders will need to pay an exemption fee. We are having enough trouble trying to raise funding for essential security.
    As for schools - as an ex teacher - I know how strapped for cash they can be and also how many mny projects are operating around the country getting children into the idea of growing and cooking good food.
    I have sent my comments in and did ask for some clarification - I didn't get it just an acknowledgement that my comments would be taken into consideration.


Hello! Thank you for reading my blog and for commenting. I try to reply as quickly as I can and I really appreciate your interest in my life and doings here in The Compost Bin.