If you have a garden, chances are you have a composting pile nearby. You toss apple cores, fruit rinds, vegetable scraps, and it’s where most of your fall leaves end up.
You know how beneficial the living organisms in the compost pile are for your plants. So, what about meat? Can you compost meat?
Can You Put Meat in Compost?
Composting is the process of creating organic material to add to your garden soil. Compost works similar to manufactured fertilizers, except you are making it at home.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), you need three materials in a compost pile. Without these three essentials, your compost won’t break down into the beneficial nutrients your plants need to thrive.
- Water to create a moist environment
- Brown materials like twigs, leaves, and small, thin branches
- Green materials like grass clippings, coffee grounds, fruit cores, and vegetable scraps
Can You Compost Meat Safely?
The EPA has some pretty strict guidelines on what you can and can’t safely compost. The list includes yard waste, eggshells, woodchips, shredded newsprint, and pieces of fruits and vegetables.
An easy way to determine if something is compostable is to find out if it’s living matter. It’s why you can put newspaper in a compost pile. It’s made from living plant material.
Putting meat in a compost pile is a little different. Yes, meat comes from animals which are living organisms. The difference is the type of material. Meat can draw pests to your yard and also ruin your compost.
It’s usually not a good idea to put meat in compost.
Why You Shouldn’t Put Meat in Compost
You shouldn’t put meat in a compost bin or pile for a few reasons.
Rodents and other pests are often attracted to the meat whether it is raw or cooked. You do not want a rodent problem developing in your yard. Eventually, the pests will make their way inside your house.
Even in an airtight composting bin, meat still emits a very strong and unpleasant odor. Depending on how close your neighbors are, it can result in problems across fence lines.
While it’s a bad idea to put cooked meat in compost, it’s even worse when it’s raw. Raw meat can become a breeding ground for harmful bacteria. Salmonella and E. coli are two common bacteria associated with raw meat. Not only can the contaminants harm your garden, but they are also harmful to people and animals.
Can You Safely Compost Meat?
The EPA does recommend against composting meat, but you can do it safely. You are going to need to devote a lot of time to your compost. For some composters, adding meat to their organic piles may not be worth the effort.
If you are a dedicated composter and hate throwing meat scraps away, here’s how you can compost meat.
Enlarge Your Compost Pile
Not everyone has the room to expand their compost piles, but it has to be large enough to support the decomposition process. You want the area to measure at least 3x3x3 feet. You can go larger if you have the space.
Pay Attention to Where You Put the Meat
You can toss brown and green materials in a compost heap without paying too much attention to where the scraps land. You are only aiming for the layer covering the pile.
When you are composting meat, you want to pay attention to where you throw it.
Place the scraps of meat close to the center and buried underneath a few layers of green and brown materials. You are creating a process known as hot composting. It’s the only way the meat will break down into material you can use in the garden.
Keep the Temperature High
Keeping your compost pile’s internal temperature around 130° and 160° F is necessary for the meat to break down. It is also why most people choose not to put meat in compost. If your compost pile is outdoors, paying attention to the weather is crucial.
You may need to move your compost pile into the sun. The pile’s internal temperature needs to stay at 130° F or higher for around 15 days. Flip the pile with a rake or pitchfork every five days (three times) during the composting process.
If the meat doesn’t compost after 15 days, treat the pile as raw and avoid using it in the garden.
Can You Compost Meat Without Putting It in the Pile?
Composting meat is time-consuming. It takes a little over two weeks if the weather is warm and sunny. There are easier methods to use when you are trying to compost meat.
Some areas have recycling facilities that accept scraps of meat. The scraps are often turned into animal feed, instead of going directly to the landfill. You can check with your local government webpage to see if there is a meat recycling plant near you.
The other option is the garbage can. Unfortunately, the meat isn’t recycled. The good news is the meat will eventually break down, leaving the landfill.
If you are throwing out raw meat, you want to take a few safety measures. Wrap the meat in plastic to prevent bacteria from escaping. You also do not want to leave meat sitting in your household garage for more than a couple of days. Not only can it be a health hazard, but it can also leave an unpleasant smell.
So, to answer the question can you compost meat. The answer is yes. A better question is should you put meat in compost? The answer depends on how dedicated you are to composting.
It takes a little over two weeks for meat to compost without turning the pile raw. You also have to remember to keep flipping the pile throughout the cycle. If the weather doesn’t cooperate, composting meat may have you starting a new pile.