Reducing food waste day 3 – Green Cones

Filed in Blog by on March 25, 2011 6 Comments
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using a Green Cone to digest cooked food waste

using a Green Cone to digest cooked food waste

On Monday we talked about using a wormery to reduce cooked food waste. On Wednesday we covered bokashi bins.

A wormery is ideal if space is limited and you only have a small amount of waste.  A bokashi bin is ideal if you don’t want to do much regular composting. Today we’re going to talk about the Green Cone and here are the most commonly asked questions about them from our readers:

What is a Green Cone?

A Green Cone is different to a compost heap – it is a food digester, which means you don’t get any compost back from it and you shouldn’t put garden waste into it. You can put raw and cooked meat or fish, bones, dairy products and any other organic waste into a Green Cone and you add a special accelerator powder. The contents simply rot down quickly and drain away into the surrounding soil. It looks a bit like a plastic compost bin, but there is a basket underneath where the majority of the contents go. You need to dig a hole for the basket to sit into and the rest of the digester is above ground.

Does a Green Cone attract rats?

Green Cones are supposed to be rat proof and it is advisable to put wire around the bottom of them. However, I have had a rat chew through concrete to get into my house, so if they are persistent, nothing will stop them!

How do I know if my Green Cone is working properly?

If the Green Cone is working effectively, everything will be covered in a white ‘fur’. You will get some accelerator powder to help get the balance right.

Where should I put my Green Cone?

A green cone should be situated in full sun. They do not work properly in shade.

Does a Green Cone work on clay soil?

Green Cones are ideally suited to free draining soil. You can get around this by digging a deeper hole than necessary and filling the hole with gravel or even building a kind of ‘raised bed’ structure for it. But a couple of people I have spoken to with clay soil have found a Green Cone ineffective.


About the Author ()

I am a long time supporter of the Green and Sustainable lifestyle. After being caught in the Boscastle floods in 2004, our family begun a journey to respect and promote the importance of Earth's fragile ecosystem, that focussed on reducing waste. Inspired by the beauty and resourcefulness of this wonderful planet, I have published numerous magazine articles on green issues and the author of four books.

Comments (6)

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  1. Emily says:

    So using a green cone nourishes the soil, too? Where do you buy them and how much do they cost?Is it useful to have more than one and, finally (so many questions because it sounds amazing) do you separate food groups or put all your scraps into one cone?

  2. Rachel says:

    I’d be so grateful for more answers with this. My concern for something like this is the raw meat thing, I suppose it’s no worse than a rotting animal corpse, but I’m not sure how environmentally sound this is with raw chicken meat juice seeping into soil that we may have draining close to areas where we grow veg? Is it safe? Probably totally dense question!

  3. Sue Corrance says:

    I’ve had a green cone for several years; in fact I’m on my second one. The first I originally placed in semi-shade and everything just turned to stinking sludge; I eventually plucked up the courage to empty it and bury the contents, and then move it to a sunny spot where it’s been working fine. I rested it over winter and have just emptied it out again (they say not to let the contents go above ground level). It was lovely compost. The only items that hadn’t decomposed were the bones. Chuck everything in – including cooked food stuffs and meats. The rats that love my compost heap aren’t interested in the cone.

    Am on my second cone as the base of the first cracked very beyond practical use upon its second emptying. Not too bad for 6 years underground though.

    It’s not meant to be used like compost though; I just thought I’d see what happened as it looked like good stuff.

  4. Sue Corrance says:

    Forgot to say that yes, I have clay soil and flint. Lovely! Make sure you have a half decent layer of stones under the basket to provide good drainage and put it in full sun.

  5. Sue Corrance says:

    Oh, and the council occasionally offers them for a fiver instead of the usual £20 or £30 from Green Cone themselves. We’re in Surrey.

  6. Mrs Green says:

    @Emily: Hi Emily, Over here they are available online or through some local councils; I would imagine you’d need to purchase online. I’ve seen them at £65-£70, but as Sue points out you can get them cheaper. You don’t need more than one, unlike a traditional compost where it’s great to have 2 or 3 and you don’t need to separate food groups; you just put everything in together 🙂 HTH!

    @Rachel: Hi Rachel, no such thing as a dense question. To be perfectly honest I don’t know the answer to your question as it’s not something that would concern me. All over the earth, as you said, corpses rot (but of course nature takes care of them by using them as food for other animals plus they decompose quickly). If you’re really concerned, it might be better to contact a seller about them? To be honest I’d be less worried about my chicken carcass juice seeping onto my home grown veg than eating non organic or GM crops from the supermarket 😉

    @Sue Corrance: Interesting to read about your experiences; thank you for sharing. I’m most fascinated by the fact the rats are no interested; that’s reassuring for many who worry about this issue.

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