cupcakes
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How to prevent maggots in city pick up compost

Hi, we are a bakery in a major city trying to compost. Our compost bin (which is picked up by a service weekly) has been getting maggots in it. We don't have brown material to throw in--its mostly organic egg shells, veggies and fruit scrapes and sometimes old bread or pastries. We've been putting in a ton of citrus rind, could that be the problem? Should we not compost orange and lemon rind?

Suggestions would be appreciated.

tomc
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Re: How to prevent maggots in city pick up compost

Maggots are inevitable in kitchen waste. Unless you store it in the freezer till pickup day.
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rainbowgardener
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Re: How to prevent maggots in city pick up compost

Congratulations on composting your wastes; I think that is admirable and could be an advertising point for you.

The browns would really help. You can't find someone to donate you newspapers they would have recycled or scraps from their office paper shredder or something? If you wanted to go that far, you can buy a bale of straw from a feed store and it will last a pretty long time for browns, fed in a bit at a time.

In the meantime, the drier you can keep it the better, so plenty of air holes/ ventilation, drain stuff before you put it in the compost, throw some paper towels in if you use them, etc.

Otherwise you could just live with them. No one is going to eat that stuff and it will be gone from your place before the maggots could hatch out in to flies.
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imafan26
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Re: How to prevent maggots in city pick up compost

The reality of compost bins of any kind is that there are critters in it. I have composting worms. In my bin I regularly have to evict roaches and occasionally spiders. I even had geckos get in there and they ate the worms.

Outdoor compost pile have centipedes, millipedes, pill bugs, ants and other critters.

The only thing that might help is to to make sure the lid on your container is on tight because the flies have to get in there to lay the eggs.
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cupcakes
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Re: How to prevent maggots in city pick up compost

we use a lot of parchment paper, would that work? I haven't been throwing it in bc i was afraid it has been treated somehow as most commercial parchment is. We also have cardboard we recycle, would that work?--but it has ink on it I'm used to using leaves--but in the middle of the city there are no leaves. We easily fill a large bin (size of a tall recycling bin) in a week, without adding browns. We are sharing the compost bin with the cafe next to us, so between the two of us there is a lot! No place nearby to get straw. We are in the middle of the city, as i mentioned.

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Re: How to prevent maggots in city pick up compost

Glad you are thinking/doing Green!
You say you set this food waste in a bin for pick-up. Where does it go from there? Follow the orange rinds to the deposit area. Does it go in with everything else? to compost area?
Now I can feel smug here in Memphis...we have Project Green Fork. (I am sure you can find on-line links). Food prep and restaurants get certified. Food/compost waste goes to one area for composting.

Keep us posted!
Have fun!
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rainbowgardener
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Re: How to prevent maggots in city pick up compost

Most cities have feed stores at least out towards the suburbs. But it doesn't matter, because your cardboard would be fine. The ink is soy based and not a problem. Culinary parchment paper is also biodegradable and compostable. So you actually have plenty of browns. Adding all your browns and sharing with the cafe, you may need to get another bin! :)

If the cardboard is boxes or big sheets, it would help if you can tear it up a little. Doesn't need to be shredded (unless you have a machine to do that), but somewhere between notebook size and newspaper size pieces, just so it doesn't keep air from getting to everything else.
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applestar
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Re: How to prevent maggots in city pick up compost

Doe the cafe have a compost bin for their customers like Whole Foods does? They have a trash bin marked "COMPOST -- food wastes and paper napkins go here".

Another way to incorporate the paper products into your kitchen waste is to use them as the liner for your in-kitchen waste container. I use a paper grocery bag inside a plastic grocery bag and put down paper egg cartons and/or pressed pulp fast food beverage tray in the bottom to soak up extra fluids and to create some airspace in the bottom.

When I take this out to the compost pile, I just turn over the plastic bag and slide the whole thing out. (I repurpose the dirty plastic bag for general trash collecting so I don't feel bad about not recycling it). By this time, the moisture has started to break down the paper bag and pulp products (I tried paper bag without the plastic bag to keep it drier, but if I don't get around to taking it out before the moisture soaked through, the paper could rip and cause an abysmal mess.) I can control the moisture level of the compost piles by adding more water if necessary.

If the outside container needs to be tightly closed without aeration for sanitation reasons, etc. You might consider incorporating Bokashi composting in the holding bin. I think it can be relatively inexpensive even after buying the EM if you make your own Bokashi, especially in the larger quantities you probably need. Adding the Bokashi microbes will enable you to compost things that are not always considered compostable. EM can help to keep down the smell too -- it's used to spray down cowsheds and pig pens. It has it's own distinct smell that some people don't like, but I think it smells like some fermented pickles like sauerkraut and kimchee.

I think it's great that you are doing this, and it's important to try to figure out the best way so you can succeed. I can imagine that maggots and flies are anathema around food/restaurant establishments.
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estorms
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Re: How to prevent maggots in city pick up compost

Can you ask the city for a dumpster with a tight sealing lid? I have some trash cans with tight fitting lids. They are large and easy to rinse out. The only problem is it is hard to get the cover off. It is doable, but you have to use two hands. I wonder what the health department will say about your critters. I don't think they will just walk on by.

cupcakes
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Re: How to prevent maggots in city pick up compost

It is a private service that we pay for, not the city. The bin they gave us is exactly like a recycling bin. . . I've been collecting paper all day (egg crates, parchment, torn up boxes) to put in. Hopefully that will help. We go through 80-90 doz eggs a week, so we have a lot of shells, plus a case of lemons a week + all the other veggie debris. So lots of wet stuff.

toxcrusadr
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Re: How to prevent maggots in city pick up compost

The advice to add browns is good, but I'd check with the hauler to make sure it's OK with them. Should be, as it is certainly compostable, but it would be a good idea to talk with them.

I'm very familiar with one small food waste hauling company, and their customers use biodegradable compostable plastic bags in their bins. This way the bag can be sealed and insects can't get in. This might be another option.

There is certainly nothing wrong with citrus or anything else you've described. The problem is just that you don't really have a compost pile there, you have a binfull of food waste on its way to the compost.
Tox

cupcakes
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Re: How to prevent maggots in city pick up compost

so you think compostable bags are the best idea? I just hate putting in something that will be harder to compost down, but if that's the best solution, i will do so. That's what the cafe suggested, but they find the notion of compost repulsive, whereas i don't.

toxcrusadr
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Re: How to prevent maggots in city pick up compost

As long as the folks who haul it away are OK with it, the bags should help. I'd talk to them so they know what you're doing, if nothing else to make sure they know the bags are compostable. They might even sell or recommend a good bag at a low price (they ain't cheap).
Tox

evtubbergh
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Re: How to prevent maggots in city pick up compost

If you go though so many eggs you should have egg cartons and that will help tremendously.

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rainbowgardener
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Re: How to prevent maggots in city pick up compost

My church tried using the "biodegradable" plastic bags for putting our kitchen scraps in, thinking that made a nice neat way to get them to the compost pile. We found that once in the compost pile, covered with other stuff, they did NOT biodegrade in any reasonable amount of time.
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evtubbergh
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Re: How to prevent maggots in city pick up compost

The plastic bags take a very long time to degrade. Funny enough I used some to store sand and some other stuff and they degraded in the sun and when I picked one up it disintegrated and everything spilled. I would leave them in the sun if wanting to degrade them.

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ElizabethB
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Re: How to prevent maggots in city pick up compost

Wednesday before last my husband came home with 40 lbs of fresh gulf shrimp. We de-headed the shrimp and packaged them for freezing. The heads went into the garbage bin. I packaged the heads in three plastic grocery bags. Pick up was the following Tuesday. Huge stink and maggots. Had to scrub the bin. Business as usual. Have not yet figured out how to avoid stink and maggots between garbage pick up.
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