Compost bin materials

Asked May 28, 2020, 4:04 PM EDT

We are rebuilding our compost bins at our community garden. We have made them out of pallets in the past, but when the pallets are in direct contact with the ground, the termites eat them in year or two. We built them up on cinder blocks the last time and they lasted about 6 or 7 years. That time, the people who built them put in an underlayer of plywood to keep the compost from falling through the pallets. This time, we do not have plywood, but we do have some composite board. The information I can find advises not to compost composite board. I am concerned that it will decompose much more quickly than the plywood, which was a bit ragged but mostly intact when we dismantled the bins, and also that it may leech the chemicals that it is glued together with into the compost. The safety data sheets understandably address inhalation of the composite board, but not the eventual eating of it :) Should we be worried about this? How much of the toxins could we expect to get in the compost? Thank you.

Maryland

1 Response

Hi- there are many types of composite board products containing various wood products, plastics, and binding agents. We can't advise you on any potential food safety risks from the materials as the composite board decomposes.

Consider covering the bottom of the bins with 1/2 in. hardware cloth which will provide rigidity and keep most of the compost from falling through the mesh. Whatever fell through could be easily raked out and used.
Jon