Garden waste - otherwise known as green waste - is decomposing organic matter that can be used as a fertiliser. Although composting is not technically waste prevention, it is included here because it removes material from the municipal waste stream.

For household waste, composting is the act of managing food and garden waste in such a way that it turns into compost. This can be done by a local authority itself, by individual householders at home in home composters or through community composting schemes.

Does garden waste break down in landfills in much the same way?

No. Garden waste in landfills breaks down without oxygen which produces methane gas. Methane is around 25 times (over a 100 year period) more powerful as a greenhouse gas than the carbon dioxide that is produced from composting (in the presence of oxygen in the atmosphere).

What is driving local authorities to promote composting?

Challenging targets have been set by the Landfill Directive (1999/31/EC) for reducing the amount of biodegradable municipal waste (BMW) going to landfill.

In the UK the amount of BMW sent to landfill must be reduced to 50% and 35% of the 1995 baseline value by 2015 and 2020 respectively.