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Setting up a Scheme

Our checklist is a suggested approach to setting up a community composting scheme.

You may need to swap the order of some tasks, or carry out different tasks at the same time.

What do you need to set up a scheme?

  • Set up an action group or working party. A core group of 2 to 3 enthusiastic volunteers is a good starting point.
  • Investigate site options. Site selection is critical - particularly the size and capacity to grow. Access needs consideration (is it one way in/out etc) and consider the surface - if it's a greenfield site then this will degrade in wet weather and become unusable. Try to approach community-minded farmers and landowners in the first instance.
  • Conduct market research. Consider:
    • Do people want a community composting scheme for their garden waste?
    • Do they want the finished compost, and would they consider donating to use it?
    • Can they volunteer on a regular basis?
  • Find out if your parish or town council is interested in supporting the scheme. Check in particular if they can help with publicity and cheaper insurance provision.
  • Advertise and publicise the scheme. It is important that the local community is very much aware of the aims of the scheme and what they can expect from it. They may be a householder using the scheme, neighbours, or part of the community that will benefit from the scheme, and so on. This is also an opportunity to find more volunteers.
  • Choose an operating model. Consider:
    • Do you want to collect from householders (to keep some control over the material received) or are you prepared to receive garden waste at the site (traffic management arrangements will need to be included in your plans)?
    • Do you want to pay a scheme co-ordinator?
  • Decide if you need a constitution. Some schemes have a formal constitution setting out the aims of the scheme and details of who is doing what and how.
  • Choose the site and start pulling together information about how it should be laid out. Pay attention to how close neighbouring residents are, and possible environmental impacts such as noise, traffic and where local streams are. This information will be required by the Council and the Environment Agency.
  • Find out if you need planning permission, licence exemption (Environmental Permitting), can you get recycling credits and do you require insurance.
  • Create a marketing plan. 'Sell' the scheme to the community through regular newsletters and articles in the press. This will not only help to publicise it, but it will help persuade people to use it and keep
  • Recruit more volunteers. You will need a good number of volunteers to ensure that the work load is spread more thinly and over the long-term. This also means better cover for holidays and sickness. Can they volunteer on a regular basis? Look at applying a rota to ensure the opening hours are covered. How many days will the site be open, once a week and the hours?
  • Facilities for volunteers to consider. Welfare facilities/toilets and shelter from the elements to be considered
  • Look into funding opportunities and grants. that may be available to help cover the initial set-up costs, such as:
    • the hire/purchase of essential equipment (e.g. a shredder, scales, sieve, wheelbarrow, tools - unless these can be donated to the scheme)
    • insurance
    • personal protective equipment (e.g. gloves, masks, goggles, high visibility vests, etc)
  • Train volunteers and/or staff. All volunteers or staff need to know what they are doing, why, how, when and where. Some volunteers will be happy doing physical work (but will need health and safety training for handling garden waste and compost/ operating shredders etc). Others may prefer to do the accounts and administration, funding applications or prefer to provide publicity for the scheme.

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