Guidance

Using animal material in home, work or community compost heaps

Find out what animal by-products (material with animal content) you can use in a small scale compost heap and if your heap needs approval.

This guide is for operators of small scale compost heaps at home or work, and community compost heaps. Operators of large scale commercial composting plants should read guidance on using animal by-products at compost and biogas factories.

Which animal by-products you can compost

You can only compost animal by-products (any material with animal content, including food cooked in animal fat or oil, or dairy products) that come from catering waste. Catering waste is leftover food and cooking oil from any kitchen or canteen including those at:

  • homes or offices
  • restaurants
  • caterers

You can’t compost commercial or industrial waste in your heap.

Keeping animals away from your compost

If you put catering waste in your compost heap, you must stop farm animals, including any you keep as pets, from accessing the heap.

You can only spread the compost on land that farm animals don’t have access to.

Farm animals include:

  • sheep
  • cattle
  • pigs
  • chickens and other poultry

Find out if you need approval

You don’t need approval to use your compost on the property where the heap is located (but you must stop farm animals accessing the compost if you put catering waste in your heap).

If you want to use your compost at another location, use the following table to find out if you need approval from the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA).

If you score 19 or less, you can use your compost off-site or sell it to other people without taking any further action. If you score 20 or more, you must contact your nearest APHA office to seek approval first.

Question If your answer is You score Your score
       
1. Do you produce, or intend to produce, more than 10 tonnes of compost in a year? Yes 10  
  No 0  
       
2. Will the compost be used on: Domestic gardens or allotments 0  
  Horticultural Land or Parks 3  
  Small holdings or farms 15  
       
3. Do any farmed animals, including those kept as pets, have access to the area where the compost is made? Yes 20  
  No 0  
       
4. Do farmed animals, including those kept as pets, have access to the place where the compost is used? Yes 15  
  No 0  
       
5. How many people, apart from regulators and inspectors and customers picking up compost, have access to the area where the compost is made? 0 to 5 0  
  6 to 10 3  
  Eleven or more 6  
       
6. Do you have and follow a biosecurity/ hygiene plan for your composting site? Yes 0  
  No 4  
       
7. Do you follow the Association for Organics Recycling or Community Composting Network guidance code of practice? Yes 0  
  No 4  
       
    Total  
Published 5 September 2014
Last updated 9 October 2014 + show all updates
  1. AHVLA documents have been re-assigned to the new Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA).
  2. AHVLA documents have been re-assigned to the new Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA).
  3. First published.