Can You Compost Canned Vegetables?

There are many things that can go in your compost bin. It’s not just for leftovers and other organic waste that can’t be thrown away any other way. Even if something doesn’t seem like it would break down easily, if it was alive at one point and is made of plant materials, you can probably compost it.

Although, there are some things that will keep your compost from working well. If you want to get the most out of your compost, you should avoid putting certain things in it.

If you’ve found yourself wondering “are canned vegetables compostable?”, “how do I do it?” and “how long will they take to compost?”: you’ve come to the right place.

Can you put canned vegetables in the compost?

Yes, canned vegetables are compostable. Adding canned vegetables to your compost pile will contribute to creating a nutrient-rich fertiliser that you can use in your garden.

Can you put them in the waste bin?

If you don’t have a compost bin, you can put vegetables in the appropriate roadside collection bin but biodegradable materials like canned vegetables are better off being in a compost pile.

Disposing of organic or compostable waste like vegetables in landfill can contribute to the release of potent greenhouse gases like methane, which has around 80 times the warming power of carbon dioxide.

Methane emissions are significantly reduced by composting suitable food waste and organic materials.

How to compost canned vegetables

You should add extra brown materials to offset canned vegetables preserved in brine or vinegar and sugary syrups that will affect the bacteria population of your pile.

As a green material, you should be adding canned vegetables and other green nitrogen-rich materials then a layer of brown to cover it. Remember to use a garden fork or a stick to poke holes in your compost every couple of weeks to mix the pile up.

How long will canned vegetables take to compost?

It takes up to 3 months for canned vegetables to completely decompose in a compost. Because they take a little while to decompose, you may want to avoid adding them to your compost on a regular basis.

Canned vegetables discarded on the ground or buried in the ground will take longer to decompose.

Are canned vegetables a green or brown material?

Canned vegetables should be considered a green material when composting.

Materials that are green, like canned vegetables, are often more wet and softer recently-living organic material; and are a source of nitrogen (one of the four essential ingredients) for your compost. Green nitrogen-rich materials provide a lot of the vital nutrients that microbes need to speed up the process of decomposition. Ideally your compost mix should consist of about 1 part of green material for every 4 parts of brown material.

Composts rely on green materials like canned vegetables to add the neccessary proteins and other nourishment for the microbes to thrive to the pile.

Will composting them attract pests?

Yes. Canned vegetables may attract pests. To avoid attracting rodents you should only add small amounts and ensure it is well buried to ensure it breaks down quickly.

Composting considerations

When composting canned vegetables, you should not ever put the can in the compost as well.

Omar Agor-Wood
Omar Agor-Wood

Omar is a digital marketer by day for one of the UK's largest environmental consultancy companies, and is writing like the world depends on it for Pick Ethical at night. He has a passion for hiking, bouldering, and making a fuss of his dog.

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