The Different Types & Methods Of Composting

In the guide below, we outline the different types and method of composting.

We discuss aerobic vs anaerobic vs vermi composting, hot vs cold composting, and the different ways/methods to make compost.

We also discuss other relevant aspects of composting, such as different waste types used for composting, and more. 


Firstly, What Is Compost, & What Is Composting?

What Is Composting?

Composting is the process of decomposition of organic matter/material

Some describe composting as the ‘recycling of organic matter’


What Is Compost?

Compost is what is left over after the organic material has decomposed (i.e. finished the composting process)

Compost can take several forms though – we list the range of ‘composts’ in the guide below

Some composts can be used to improve soil fertility, and improve the conditions for production or growing in soil


Different Types Of Composting

Composting can be categorised in several ways, such as:

– Aerobic vs anaerobic vs vermi composting

– Hold (active) vs cold (passive) composting

– And, other categories or types of composting


There’s also different methods of carrying out the different types/categories of composting, in addition to different forms of compost.


Aerobic vs Anaerobic vs Vermi Composting 

Aerobic, anaerobic and vermi composting are three of the main types of composting.


– Aerobic Composting

Aerobic composting is the decomposition of organic matter involving microorganisms with the presence of oxygen

It usually takes place in open space and open air

Compared to anaerobic composting, aerobic composting might be a quicker process (could take a few weeks vs months for anaerobic composting), involve higher temperatures/more heat, be turned more frequently, and not produce as odorous gases.

The heat also kills pathogens and weed seeds in the compost pile. According to, composting that maximises aerobic conditions over anaerobic conditions results in ‘… a stable humus that is weed-free and safe to use for agriculture, landscaping, gardening or other purposes.’

Aerobic composting is sometimes referred to as hot composting because of the heat produced.

Aerobic composting can also be referred to as active composting because of the turning of the compost material involved.


– Anaerobic Composting

Anaerobic composting is the decomposition of organic matter involving microorganisms (microbes like bacteria or fungi) without the presence of oxygen

It usually takes places underground, or in pits or trenches (but also in landfills)

Compared to aerobic composting where majority of the gas emitted is carbon dioxide, majority of the gas emitted during the anaerobic composting process is methane

Anaerobic composting also usually takes longer, and involves lower temperatures

Anaerobic composting is sometimes referred to as cold composting (because of the temperature), or passive composting (because it doesn’t require turning)


– Vermi Composting

The decomposition of organic matter (such as food scraps) using various species of worms, instead of microbes involved in aerobic and anaerobic composting

Vermicomposting can be done in several ways, with worm composting bins and worm farms (also known as vermicomposters) being common for backyards. Worm farms can be bought from shops. Worms and waste are added to the top section of the worm farm, and vermicompost (or worm compost) is produced at the bottom

Soil beds can be used for vermicomposting too

A nutrient rich soil can be the outcome of vermicomposting


* Black Soldier Flies Composting, & Other Microorganisms Used For Composting

Other microorganisms can be used for composting too (although not as commonly as the above types of composting)

Black Soldier Flies for example eat and break down organic waste like food scraps/waste, and produce leachate which seeps out into the surrounding soil ready for your plants and worms to turn it into composted soil


Hot (Active) vs Cold (Passive) Composting

– Hot (Active) Composting

Hot composting involves composting at higher temperatures, and active composting involves turning the composting material periodically during the composting process.

The two are usually part of the same composting process

Active composting requires the right ratios of brown and green materials – because of these things, it requires more knowledge, attention and monitoring than cold composting (hence why it’s described as active)

Turning the organic material creates different conditions for the microorganisms (they produce heat as a result of their biological processes), keeps the organic material ‘running hot’, kills weed seeds and pathogens (as a result of the heat), and overall breaks down into finer nutrient rich organic matter

Is a much faster method than cold/passive composting. It may take a matter of weeks – say 3 to 6 week.


– Cold (Passive) Composting

Cold composting involves composting at lower temperatures, and passive composting involves composting without turning the organic material 

The two are usually part of the same composting process

It may take a matter of months – say 3 to 6 months, but may also take longer (a year or more).


Other Types Of Composting

Some other ways to categorise composting might include:

– Home vs Commercial

Home composting can be done at home, in the backyard, or on a private property

Commercial composting is done at commercial composting facilities


– Onsite vs Offsite Composting

Onsite composting is composting that takes place at the site where the organic waste was created e.g. food scraps at home being put into a home composting bin

Offsite composting is composting that takes place at another site or facility separate to where the organic waste was created e.g. at a public composting facility that accepts organic waste from a municipal organic waste stream


Different Composting Methods (Ways To Compost)

In addition to there being different types of composting, there’s different methods that can be used for each.

They include:


– Traditional Pile Or Heap

A pile or heap organic waste in an open space


– Trench or Pit

Digging a trench or pit, and burying organic waste underground


– In Vessel Composting

According to

This method involves feeding organic materials into a drum, silo, concrete-lined trench, or similar equipment

This allows good control of the environmental conditions such as temperature, moisture, and airflow.

The material is mechanically turned or mixed to make sure the material is aerated. The size of the vessel can vary in size and capacity


– Tumblers

Tumblers can be bought as products from a shop

A composting tumbler could technically be classified as a form of in-vessel composting

It’s a sealed container/barrel that is usually turned or rotated with a handle, that mixes the organic waste inside


– Bokashi

Is for food scraps and food waste, such as dairy and meat

Bokashi involves using microorganisms known as ‘Bokashi bran’ to ferment organic food waste 

Usually involves putting a Bokashi mix and food scraps/waste into a sealed off bin

Some claim Bokashi is a form of composting, whilst others say it isn’t – the reason for this is that the Bokashi bran pickles or ferments the food via a fermentation process, instead of allowing it to decay


– Green Cone

Green composting cones can be bought as a product from the shop

They are cones attached to a basket that is buried in the ground

These cones use the heat of the sun to digest and break down food scraps


– Sheet Mulching, Or Sheet Composting

Also known as lasagna composting, or composting in place

It involves layering organic waste layers on top of each other in between layers of cardboard or paper (like newspaper)


– Aerated (Turned) Windrow Composting

According to ‘This type of composting involves forming organic waste into rows of long piles called “windrows” and aerating them periodically by either manually or mechanically turning the piles’

It is suitable for large volumes of organic waste


The Different Forms/Types Of Compost 

Beyond the types and methods of composting, there are different forms and types of compost, all with their own traits and features

Some of the main types or forms of compost are:


– Compost

The decomposed compost matter left over after the composting process is complete 

It can be a nutrient rich soil for example


– Farmyard Manure

Manure from farmyard animals and livestock, such as cows, horses, etc

Some of these manures can be high in certain nutrients though, such as cow manure and ammonia or soluble nitrogen

Some reports indicate that chicken manure can be a good fertilizer once aged and composted properly


– Green Manure

Also known as ‘cover crops’

They are crops or plants grown specifically to help improve soil quality, texture, nutrients, disease load, or to add organic matter to the soil


– Vermicompost

Organic matter turned into compost matter by earthworms


Using Different Types Of Waste In Different Types Of Composting

Some types of composting are only suitable for specific types of waste.

Additionally, the right mix and % share of different waste types may need to be used for different types of composting to get a good resulting compost product.

For these reasons, the organic material requirements for a specific type of composting should be checked prior to starting the composting process.


Factors To Manage/Control During Composting lists these 5 main factors as factors that must be controlled or managed during composting:

Feedstock and nutrient balance

Particle size

Moisture content

Oxygen flow



There may be more factors than these though for individual composting processes.


Potential Pros & Cons Of Composting

In this guide, we outline some of the potential pros and cons of composting.










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