What Can and Can’t Be Composted – A Comprehensive List

What Can and Can’t Be Composted: A Comprehensive Guide


Composting is an eco-friendly way to reduce waste, enrich the soil, and create nutrient-rich organic matter. However, not everything can be composted successfully. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore what items can be composted and those that should never find their way into your compost pile.

What Can Be Composted?

Veggie Scraps

Kitchen vegetable scraps are excellent additions to your compost pile. Fruit peels, coffee grounds, tea bags, and eggshells are all great sources of nitrogen and other essential nutrients for healthy decomposition.

Garden Waste

Leaves, grass clippings, flowers, small prunings from garden plants – these materials break down easily in a compost pile. They provide carbon that balances the nitrogenous kitchen scraps mentioned earlier.

Paper Products

Uncoated paper products like newspaper (shredded), cardboard (cut into smaller pieces), paper towels or napkins (free of chemicals) can also be added to your compost heap. These materials contribute carbon while helping aerate the mix.

Yard Trimmings

Don’t forget about those larger yard trimmings! Small branches or twigs should be chipped or broken up before adding them to accelerate their breakdown process in the compost bin.

What Shouldn’t Be Composted?

Dairy Products & Meat

While some advanced methods allow for meat and dairy decomposition in specialized systems like Bokashi bins or digesters—these aren’t suitable for traditional backyard piles due to potential odors attracting pests like rats or raccoons.


If you’re determined to compost these items, consider consulting local composting facilities or services that handle industrial-grade composting.

Grease & Oil

Fats, oils, and greasy leftovers should not be added to your compost pile. These substances can disrupt the decomposition process by creating an imbalance in moisture levels and attracting unwanted pests.

Invasive Weeds & Diseased Plants

It’s best to avoid adding invasive weeds or plants plagued with diseases to your compost. The heat generated during typical backyard composting may not be enough to kill weed seeds or pathogens, risking their spread when you use the finished product in your garden.

Pet Waste

Although it may seem organic, pet waste should never go into a regular compost pile. Dog and cat feces can contain harmful bacteria like E.coli or parasites that pose health risks if not handled correctly.


In summary, successful composting relies on a careful selection of appropriate materials. By understanding what can and cannot be safely included in your compost pile, you’re well on your way to producing rich soil amendment while avoiding potential issues associated with improper decomposition. Remember: stick with vegetable scraps, garden waste, paper products (without chemicals), yard trimmings (in moderation), but steer clear of dairy products/meat, grease/oil residues, invasive weeds/diseased plants as well as pet waste for optimal results!