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Composting - Turning Green Waste into Black Gold

What is Compost?
Compost is a dark, crumbly, sweet, earthy-smelling form of decomposing organic matter.

Composting is the natural breakdown of organic materials by living organisms. In a meadow or on the forest floor, dead plants decay, and many of the nutrients that plants take up during their life are released back into the soil, forming compost.

Why Compost?
Backyard composting is a simple, convenient way to turn yard waste into a rich soil amendment. It greatly reduces the volume of yard trimmings and food scraps normally disposed of and produces a rich soil amendment that:

  • Reduces the need for commercial fertilizers and pesticides
  • Improves drainage and loosens heavy clay soils
  • Conserves moisture in light sandy soils
  • Produces healthier plants and slows evaporation, which reduces water usage
  • Saves money on fertilizers and water
  • Reduces the need for City collection of yard waste

Burbank's Composting Program
Since December 1989, the City of Burbank has provided residents with free composting instruction and top-quality composters. Over the years, composting has played an essential part in the City’s ability to divert 50% of its waste from the landfill as required by State law. The City collects over 1,000 tons of green waste per month at the curb and takes it to a composting facility outside of Burbank. Backyard composting helps to reduce this amount. 

Getting Started
If you are interested in backyard composting, please call the Burbank Recycle Center at (818) 238-3900 weekdays between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., and ask about upcoming workshops.

Residents receive free composters at the workshops. The compost bins available through the City are selected based on a variety of attributes including bin capacity, quality, ease of assembly and handling, cost, attractiveness, and durability. Brand names vary, depending on the best available product on the market at the time. If you move within Burbank, please take your composter with you, and call the Recycle Center with an address change. If you move out of Burbank, please call the Recycle Center so that your composter can be returned and reused in Burbank.

If you cannot attend a workshop, you can receive a composter and instructions weekdays at the Burbank Recycle Center during regular business hours by calling the Center to make an appointment. The County of Los Angeles also periodically holds composting workshops. Call 1-888-Clean LA for information regarding the County workshops.

At City workshops, some of the topics include:

  • How and what to compost
  • Simple ways of avoiding odors and flies
  • Harvesting and using compost
  • Vermicomposting and grasscycling
  • Mulching, pruning, fertilizing
  • Xeriscape (minimal water usage) landscaping

Special workshops about composting for Burbank non-profit organizations, businesses, schools, and restaurants can be arranged upon request.

City staff can answer questions about composting and related subjects such as grasscycling (leaving grass clippings on the lawn) and vermicomposting (worm composting).

Grass clippings, dead leaves, wood chips, hedge trimmings, flowers, old plants, soft plant stems, fruit and vegetable peelings, coffee grounds, and egg shells – pile them in a heap in your yard and compost happens. Put them in your compost bin, spend five to ten minutes a week watering and turning them, and compost happens faster!

These wastes or organic materials break down into a soil conditioner – called mulch, humus, or compost – that you can spread around your plants or dig into your garden. Spread compost over bare soil and watch it control weed growth while providing nutrients for plants and trees. Use it as a base for a great soil providing nutrients for plants and trees. Use it as a base for a great soil mix for indoor potted plants. 

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