What is composting?

Composting is a method of recycling organic waste. There are several ways of doing it, but all involve letting the waste be broken down by organisms like bacteria and worms in a way that is comparable to controlled rotting. This then produces compost that can be used as a fertilizer for your plants. [1]

What is Bokashi?

Bokashi is another method of recycling organics. It is based on a traditional Japanese technique and involves placing waste in an oxygen-free environment (usually an airtight container) along with certain types of bacteria. These bacteria then ferment, or break down, the waste into a usable fertilizer. [2]

Comparison of composting, Bokashi, and landfills

Below is a table comparing the costs and benefits of three options: recycling organic waste into fertilizer using composting, recycling it using Bokashi, and sending organic waste to a landfill and using chemical fertilizer instead.

Composting Bokashi Landfill + Fertilizer
Does it release greenhouse gases? Yes, methane from the rotting of waste Very little Yes, both due to rotting of waste and the release of N2O from fertilizer use
Does it produce fertilizer? Yes, but it is low in carbon due to release as methane Yes, all nutrients in waste remain in the resulting fertilizer No
Does it smell bad? Yes No Yes
What can be recycled? Most (but not all) plant matter, sometimes paper Plant matter, meat and dairy, pet waste, paper Almost anything
Is it sanitary? No, can sometimes harbour dangerous pathogens Yes, acid produced by the bacteria kills most pathogens No
Does it pollute the environment? Sometimes, depending on amount of waste, composting method, and proximity to water No, waste is contained in a bin Often, both from the landfill itself contaminating the land, and from water contamination from the landfill and fertilizer run-off
How much does it cost? Free to cheap, depending on method Initial cost is somewhat expensive (at least $50) Disposal is free to cheap, depending on how much waste; fertilizer can be expensive
Where and when can you dispose of waste? Outside, mostly during the warmer months (but depends on method) Inside and outside, at any time (as long as you bring the bin inside during winter) In a public landfill at any time of the year
Are there any other benefits? No The bacteria involved can also suppress microorganisms in the soil that cause plant diseases Involves minimum effort

As shown in the table, Bokashi has several benefits over composting, but both are a better option than putting your waste in the landfill and using chemical fertilizers.

How to recycle your food waste


The simplest way to get rid of your organic waste sustainably is to put it in your green bin and have it collected on garbage day. From there it is brought to a regional composting facility where is it turned into compost. While it is free for disposal, however, you usually have to pay for the compost produced, so this is only a good option if you don't have room for a compost pile or are just looking to get rid of your waste. [3]

An easy and cheap way to produce compost is to create a compost pile. To do this, first find a place to create your pile. This should be away from your house because the waste may attract animals. Once you have your location, you will need to separate your waste into "brown" waste, which is dry leaves, twigs, paper, and cardboard, and "green" waste, which is food scraps and green plant trimmings. Start with laying down a thick layer of brown waste, then a thinner layer of green waste, and continue this pattern until you've used up your green waste. Then cover the pile with brown waste to prevent access by animals. [4]

As you produce more waste, continue to add it to the pile using the same pattern. You can also mix the pile occasionally with a shovel or pitchfork to help speed up the process. After several months, once the food scraps are no longer visible, your compost is nearly ready. At this point, stop adding more waste to pile and let the compost sit for about a month to finish decomposing. After this, you will have compost you can use in your garden. [4]


The first step to using Bokashi is to buy a Bokashi bin. This is an airtight bin with a tap on the bottom to release liquids produced by the fermentation process. You will also need to buy the bacteria that ferments your waste, which usually comes as bran or sawdust coated with the bacteria. To use your bin, place alternating layers of organic waste and the bacteria into the bin, preferably only once per day to preserve the oxygen-free environment. Continue this process until the bin is full, periodically opening the tap to drain any liquid that forms (which can also be used as fertilizer). Once the bin is full, it needs to sit for 2 weeks to finish fermenting, after which the contents can be buried in the garden to provide nutrients to your plants. [2] [5]


While Bokashi has some benefits over composting, both methods have a similar process and are great ways of recycling your food and garden waste.


1. Ayilara, M., Olanrewaju, O., Babalola, O., & Odeyemi, O. (2020). Waste management through composting: Challenges and potentials. Sustainability, 12(11), 4456.

2. Olle, M. (2021). Review: Bokashi technology as a promising technology for crop production in Europe. The Journal of Horticultural Science and Biotechnology, 96(2), 145–152.

3. Niagara Region. (2023). Green bin recycling for residents.

4. United States Environmental Protection Agency. (2022, July 7). Composting at home.

5. Bokashi Living. (2022). How does it work?