We all strive to be more zero-waste minded, but we don’t always have the necessary space that’s needed for certain aspects of reducing, reusing and recycling. This is especially true if you live in an small space, where the idea of apartment composting is something that can seem entirely unachievable.
However, there are certain things you can do to compost your food waste, reduce your carbon footprint and get one step closer to zero-waste living if you live in an apartment. And, without any doubt, the best tool for the job is a compost bin that is designed specifically for small spaces.
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A quick search online will bring up lots of results for compost bins, but not all of them can be used in an apartment. And, of the ones that can be, the instructions on how to actually compost your food scraps aren’t always that clear.
So, to make things easier, we put together a list of the 10 best compost bins for an apartment. We’ll also take you through how each of them works and talk about a couple of different composting methods to help you find the best apartment compost bin for your individual needs.
We’re going to start with simple food waste collecting bins, and then move on to the all-in-one composting solutions, like worm composters (yes you can have a worm farm in an apartment!), bokashi composters and more modern inventions.
Let’s get back to basics for a minute, as you may be wondering why the need for composting at all. Is it really that important?
In short, yes. In the USA around 21% of what ends up at landfill is food waste. What’s worse, is that up to 40% of all food produced, ends up going to waste.
Sure, households aren’t solely to blame, but if everyone does their own bit, it can certainly make an impact on the overall mass. Things llike planning your weekly shop better, or learning ways to use food scraps can lessen the load, but you’ll inevitably still have some food waste leftover, so the next best thing is to start a compost.
Top Pick for Apartment Composting – Vitamix FoodCycler
In need of a quick fix? This innovative solution from Vitamix is our top choice of apartment composting bins as it’s a near all-in-one fix for your food waste woes.
Small enough to fit on your benchtop, you collect your food scraps throughout the day in an odor-proof container, pop it into the machine overnight, and in the morning you’ll find your bin full of food scraps has been turned into a small amount of odorless plant food ready to be sprinkled into your pots. It’s like magic!
- Fertilizer from Food Scraps in mere hours
- 2L Capacity for most table and refrigerator scraps including chicken bones
- Cuts down volume of food waste by up to 90%
Best Countertop Compost Bins for Food Scraps
If your apartment building has a community food waste bin that all the residents use collectively, the best choice would be getting a compost bin solely for collecting your food scraps. This will allow you to store them in your kitchen without creating a bad smell.
It will also stop you from having to make the trip to the community food waste bin so regularly. Below, you’ll find our choice of the best compost bins for food scraps.
Let’s start with the basics by looking at the Epica Stainless Steel Compost Bin.
Its small size makes it ideal for an apartment, and it can even sit comfortably on a countertop without taking up too much space.
Meanwhile, its 1-gallon capacity means that it can hold several days worth of food scraps at a time.
The airtight lid works together with a removable charcoal filter to prevent any nasty odors from permeating through your apartment.
The filter can also be cleaned using only water and, if maintained correctly, will last for over 6 months.
Its stainless steel construction makes it super durable. It’s also rust-resistant and leak-proof, so there’s no need to worry about anything seeping out. This apartment composting bin is easy to clean as well, and can even be placed in the dishwasher.
- Small but mighty – fits neatly in a cabinet or on a countertop, and the 1-gallon capacity can hold several days worth of food scraps
- Airtight lid & charcoal filter – these work perfectly together to eliminate odors and are easy to clean
- Stainless steel construction – durable, rust-resistant, and leak-proof
- Doesn’t have an internal container – this means you’ll have to clean the inside of the compost bin every time you empty it. Or, you can use an old paper bag as a compostable liner!
If you’d like to try the freezer compost method, the Scrap Happy Kitchen Compost Bin is the perfect choice.
Designed to fit right into your freezer door, you’ll be able to add food scraps whenever you want without any risk of creating bad odors.
The BPA-free, silicone construction is what makes it suitable for storing in a freezer.
It won’t crack or warp out of shape, and you don’t even have to add plastic bags to it.
Simply throw your food scraps straight in! And, when the time comes to clean it, you can put it straight in the dishwasher. It has a 0.6-gallon capacity which is ideal for a single-person household or two people living together.
There’s no need to worry about it falling out of your freezer when you open the door either, as the wire rim attachment holds it securely in place.
- Perfect for freezer composting – the silicone construction won’t break, snap, or warp in freezing temperatures
- No need for plastic bags – simply add you food scraps straight to the bin and place the compost bin the dishwasher for easy cleaning
- Wire-rim attachment – hold the compost bin in securely place inside your freezer
- No lid – you’ll have to make sure you don’t overfill this compost bin as there isn’t a lid to keep the food scraps contained
The EcoCrock Counter Compost Bin has a separate internal pail that can be removed and emptied. This inner compartment is made from plastic, so it’s easy to clean, and can be put in the dishwasher.
It also has a fold-down handle that makes removing it really easy.
The outer material of the compost bin is made from ceramic, which gives it a slightly more sophisticated look than some other apartment compost bins.
It has a 3-liter capacity and features a reusable charcoal filter that traps and absorbs odors.
It also comes with two additional charcoal filters, offering you extra value for money.
The small size of the compost bin makes it perfect for storing on your countertop. It’s available in two different colors, so you’ll be able to choose the right one to suit your kitchen’s design scheme.
- Internal pail – can be removed from the compost bin using the fold-down handle for convenient emptying
- Ceramic outer – aesthetically pleasing and dishwasher safe
- Charcoal filters – comes with a total of 3 charcoal filters that trap and absorb odors
- Smaller capacity – can only hold up to 3-liters of food scraps
The Breeze Full Circle Compost Bin features Fresh Air Technology that helps reduce odors and eliminate mess.
This technology also promotes aerobic decomposition, helping your food scraps break down at a faster rate.
It has a 0.85-gallon capacity and comes with three compostable bags that make it easier than ever to empty the bin.
Its compact size makes it a great choice for sitting neatly on your countertop, and its subtle design won’t make it look out of place in your kitchen.
The construction of this compost bin is environmentally-friendly too as it is made from recycled plastic and partially recycled steel. This also means that it’s easy to wipe clean. And, to top it all off, it has a built-in handle that makes it easy to move from place to place when needed.
- Fresh air technology – reduces odors, eliminates mess, and promotes aerobic decomposition
- Includes compostable bags – keeps all your food scraps neatly together and makes emptying easier
- Environmentally-friendly construction – made from recycled plastic and partially-recycled steel
- Small capacity – the 0.85-gallon capacity means you may have to empty it more frequently.
- Have to purchase extra bags.
If countertop space is a precious commodity in your apartment, this Under-Counter Compost Bin from Subekyu is a great choice.
It can be easily attached to the inside (or outside!) of a cabinet which, as well as making it more compact, reduces the chances of fruit flies being drawn to it.
Its compact design doesn’t hinder the amount it can hold though, with its capacity coming in at an impressive 2.4 gallons.
The lid is easy to open and close and it can also be locked into place when shut. This helps to stop any odors from escaping and further eliminates the risk of pests getting into your food scraps.
It’s easy to remove from your cabinet for cleaning, and the washable surface makes doing so a breeze.
- Under-counter design – can be attached to the inside of a cabinet to save countertop space
- Sealable lid – helps keep odors and pests out
- Easy to remove & clean – the construction means it can be easily removed from your cabinet for cleaning
- No filters – although the sealable lid helps keep odors inside the bin, there aren’t any charcoal filters to absorb any particularly bad smells
The Mantaro Designer Kitchen Countertop Compost Bin allows you to compost your food scraps in your apartment without sacrificing the aesthetics of your kitchen.
It also has a 1.5-gallon capacity, which can hold several days of food waste at a time.
The rectangular design means that you don’t suffer from the same sort of spills and messes that you can get from scraping food waste into a cylindrical compost bin from your countertop.
It also features retractable handles, making it easy to remove the internal compartment for empting. The solid oak frame and nylon glides ensure that this compost bin is durable and able to stand the test of time.
You can also place the stainless steel internal compartment in the dishwasher to give it a really thorough clean.
- Rectangular design – creates less mess when scraping food from your countertop into the compost bin
- Retractable handles – keeps things compact and makes it easy to remove and empty the internal compartment
- 1.5-gallon capacity – can store several days of food waste at a time
- Expensive – sits at the higher end of the price spectrum for compost bins, however, it’s aesthetics and features are worth the money
Very similar to the option above, this countertop compost bin is made from oak and steel, making it a durable and eco-friendly option.
However, what makes this compost stand out is the beautiful craftsmanship. If you have a kitchen you’re proud of, this handmade compost bin will fit right in!
Made in the USA from reclaimed wood, you can feel good about owning this bespoke piece that will last a lifetime.
Apartment Composting with Worms & Bokashi
If you want to get the most out of your food scraps and turn them into nutrient-rich compost that you can add to your plants, then either a worm compost bin (also known as vermicomposting) a bokashi compost kit could be a great choice.
Both these forms of composting do take a little more work, but the results are totally worth it. And, contrary to popular belief, both of them can be done in an apartment. Below, you’ll find the best apartment compost bins for worm composting and bokashi.
How Does Worm Composting Work?
Worm composting is actually pretty straightforward, as long as you get the mixture of materials right. You need a good balance between carbon materials (brown) and nitrogen materials (green).
Sources of carbon include dry leaves and shredded paper. These also act as bedding for the worms, and it’s an essential part of your worm compost bin as it will control odor and moisture levels.
Fill the first layer with your brown, carbon-rich materials until it’s about half full. Then scatter some soil over the top and add the worms. If you want, you can add coffee grounds too, as these are very good for a worm’s stomach.
After a few days, your worms will have settled in. This is when you can start adding your nitrogen materials. In this case, it’s food scraps! Scatter these across the top of your bedding layer, followed by another coat of bedding.
Once the first tray is full, add the second tray, and repeat this process. You don’t need to add any more worms, as they’ll wriggle their way through the bedding and food until they reach the top.
After about a month, the first tray you filled will be free of worms and all that will be left behind is glorious ready-to-use compost.
Best Apartment Worm Farm – Urbalive Worm Farm
The Urbalive Worm Farm consists of three separate layers.
The top two layers are where the worms live, going about their business and turning your food scraps into compost that your plants will love.
The very top layer has a tight-fitting lid that stops them from escaping! The bottom layer, or “base layer” is where excess moisture is collected.
This is also known as “worm tea”, and it’s a highly nutritious liquid fertilizer that you mix with water and feed to your plants.
Getting the worm tea out of the composter is easy too, thanks to the built-in spigot. This is a fairly small composter for apartment living, but you do need to bear in mind that it will take up more space than a food scrap bin.
If you’ve got a reasonably sized kitchen, it will fit neatly in a corner without taking up too much space. It’s also ideal for composting in an apartment balcony as it can be placed outdoors.
- Has three layers – two for adding bedding and food scraps, and a worm tea collection reservoir at the bottom
- Compact design – larger than a food scraps bin, but small enough to keep in an apartment
- Easy to set up – comes with a full, step-by-step instruction guide
- Fills up quite quickly – depending on the size of your family and the amount of food waste you’re producing, you could be filling one tray per week
How Does Bokashi Composting Work?
Bokashi composting is a Japanese composting method that ferments your food scraps and turns them into organic fertilizer. To do this, you need to use wheat bran, as this helps the microorganisms ferment the food scraps anaerobically.
One of the biggest benefits of Bokashi composting is that it’s virtually odor-free. It’s also ideal for indoor composting and, since it’s a closed system, there’s hardly any risk of attracting insects. And, unlike other composting methods, it can even break down dairy, fish, and meat.
However, one drawback is that the composted material needs to be buried with existing soil. In an apartment, this might be a houseplant or containers on a balcony. But, the more your produce, the more places you’ll need to find to bury it.
Best Bokashi Compost Bin for an Apartment – SCD Probiotics Indoor Bokashi Composter
If you’re not keen on the freezer composting method, but you want minimal odors, then the SCD Probiotics Indoor Bokashi Composter is a great alternative.
Using the power of fermentation, your food scraps will be transformed into organic, nutrient-rich fertilizer.
One of the best things about Bokashi composting is that you can compost all types of food, even meat and dairy products.
This makes it a great choice for anybody aiming for a zero-waste lifestyle.
The compact size makes it perfect for an apartment, and it has a 5-gallon capacity. It also comes complete with Bokashi wheat bran, giving you the opportunity to start composting straight away.
Meanwhile, the sturdy, recycled plastic construction will keep everything contained without weakening during the decomposition process.
- Odor-free – a great alternative to the freezer compost method if you’re concerned about odors
- Produces fertilizer and compost tea – the fermentation process is quick-acting and leaves you with two compost products you can feed plants with
- Composts meat and dairy products – ideal if you’d like to compost everything you use in cooking
- Spigot may leak – some people found that the compost tea spigot can leak a small amount of liquid occasionally. This is easily remedies by placing a saucer or small container underneath.
The FoodCycler Method
Until recently, the only way to actively compost within the walls of your apartment was to have a worm farm or employ the Bokashi method listed above. But now there’s another innovative way to get rid of food scraps at home.
The FoodCycler is an indoor food waste recycler that turns food scraps into plant food with the push of a button.
- Fertilizer from Food Scraps in mere hours
- 2L Capacity for most table and refrigerator scraps including chicken bones
- Cuts down volume of food waste by up to 90%
What I really love about this compost bin is that it takes care of the whole process for you – in a compact space.
It takes away the need to have food festering in an outdoor compost bin for months and instead turns food into an odor-free plant fertilizer – right on your kitchen bench.
And the best part? This process only takes around 4-8 hours from food scraps to fertilizer!
Have a patio garden? Use the fertilizer on your plants and they’ll love you for it! If you don’t have plants, simply collect it (it doesn’t smell) and give it to someone who does!
Even if you don’t use the output on your plants and it ended up in your trash, it’d take up a whole lot less landfill space than food scraps.
- Compact – you can simply store the entire compost bin on your counter top, or alternatively just keep the removeable waste bucket on your countertop to fill with food scraps as you cook.
- Odorless – the waste bucket comes with a carbon filter, and the dehydration process turns smelly food scraps into odorless fertilizer.
- Easy to clean – to waste bucket is small enough to go straight into your dishwasher.
- Super simple – one touch of a button and the Foodcyler takes care of the rest! No more smelly messes to clean up.
- Expensive – compared to most other compost bins on this list, this one does come in at the expensive end.
Beginner’s Guide to Buying a Compost Bin
Before you get too excited about the idea of composting in your apartment and purchase the first compost bin you come across, it’s important to take note of a couple of essential details.
Below, you’ll find four of the most important things you need to remember when it comes to buying a compost bin for your apartment.
You need a compost bin that is easy to use, easy to clean, and that will fit into a smaller space. A large bin with lots of different elements will only take up more space than you have to offer!
Keep things as simple as your apartment will allow. If you have a community food waste bin in your building, choose a simple food scraps bin. Or, if you’d like to create your own compost, go for a worm composting bin or a bokashi composter.
It’s also important to think about the material that your compost bin is made from. Stainless steel and ceramic are among the best, as they are durable. They can also be placed in the dishwasher for easier cleaning.
There is a common misconception that creating compost in an apartment will lead to a foul smell traveling into each room. But, this is easily avoided by choosing a compost bin that has a charcoal filter.
This will trap and absorb any odors coming from your food scraps. Charcoal filters can also be washed simply by running them under water, so they are an eco-friendly, reusable option too.
Finally, think about how much food waste your home generates each week. Compost bins are available in many different sizes but, for an apartment, you want to keep things as small as possible.
Countertop compost bins can hold anywhere between 1-5 liters of food scraps at a time. This is ideal if you live alone or with one other person.
However, if you have a larger family and you produce lots of food waste then something larger, like a worm composting bin, compost be a better choice.