I live in a second floor apartment with a small balcony. In my kitchen I have a small vented container where I place kitchen scraps as I'm preparing food -- like this:

Kitchen counter compost bucket

About once a week when this gets full, I transfer everything into a 20 L sealed plastic pail on my balcony, like this:

5 gallon bucket

Once that is full (about every six to eight weeks), I take it in my car (while doing other errands, of course) to a nearby community garden where a coworker has a plot and dump it in the communal compost bin.

My question is, does storing compost made of kitchen scraps in a sealed container for up to eight weeks cause any problems for the open-air compost bin where I eventually place it?

A few points on my compost:

  • Scraps are about 80% raw fruit and vegetable peelings, with some egg shells, produce that has gone bad, and a few odds and ends from houseplants.
  • The bucket is sealed airtight to keep out the rain.
  • It is on a balcony facing east, so receives full morning sunlight.
  • Climate is humid continental -- highs of 35 °C in the summer, lows of -20 °C in the winter.
  • I have no need for the humus myself -- I compost to reduce the volume of waste going to the landfill, and keep the smells out of my house.

Note: There are some great answers to the question "Is it feasible to compost in an apartment in a city like New York?", but nothing on my specific question.

3 Answers 3


When you seal everything airtight the contents of your bin will start to decompose anaerobically. There are no big problems with this, but there are a few downsides:

  • anaerobic decomposition is slower than 'regular' aerobic composting
  • during anaerobic decomposition methane gas is formed which is a much more potent greenhouse gas than the CO2 that comes from aerobic composting
  • methane build-up in a very tightly sealed (metal) container can potentially be dangerous (but the plastic bin you posted is not 100% airtight, so I don't expect problems there).
  • when you open up your bin after a few weeks the decomposing materials will smell badly.
  • switching from an anaerobic to an aerobic decomposition process takes extra time

The disadvantages can be reduced a bit if the person maintaining the aerobic compost heap loosens up the decomposing material so it can 'breathe' and switch to aerobic composting faster. Burying the materials in the heap will reduce the smell.


I can't imagine this will cause you any problems. The only difference is the anaerobic (no oxygen) bacteria will be doing more work in your sealed container instead of aerobic bacteria (requiring oxygen). Aerobic is faster. But as you have no use for the hummus (sad). You should be fine.

Here's a link: if you are more interested


There is a method of fermenting kitchen scraps called bokashi, so you won't have any problem fermenting your compost.

  • The OP didn't say anything about fermenting. If no fermented bran is added, it's not bokashi.
    – THelper
    Jun 27, 2018 at 6:33
  • when you put compost in a sealed container you're fermenting, so I put the method they're talking about in my explanation.
    – a coder
    Jun 27, 2018 at 14:14

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.