Are Hot Cross Buns Compostable?
A classic Easter treat loved, baked and eaten by millions of people over the Easter period, but the real question is: Are they compostable or are they contributing to the mounds of food waste rotting in landfill?
Let's have a look at the food waste stats in Australia.
Among the most wasted edible foods in Australia, organic compostable foods, such as fruits, veg, breads, cereals and grains, make up 65 - 80% of total foods wasted.
So how much food ends up in Australian landfills?
Almost half of all food waste in Australia is sent to landfill, with 86% of this being generated by consumers (FIAL, 2021)
This equates to the average Australian generating 312kg of food waste per year (DAWE, 2021).
Food waste costs the Australian economy $36.6 billion every year (DAWE, 2021).
Each year, Australia wastes 7.6 million tonnes of food across the supply and consumption chain, with the Commercial and Industrial sectors generating 2.2 million tonnes of food waste alone.
So after seeing those stats, we wouldn't want to compound the problem by sending more food waste to landfill.
Especially when there's a chance they can be composted and renewed into fertile soils for your garden!
So the question is: Are Hot Cross Buns compostable?
And the answer is yes!
Like Bread, Wheat, Cereals and Grains - Hot Cross Buns (plain or with fruit) can be composted!
Chocolate Hot Cross Buns, or Hot Cross Buns in sugary desserts (like pudding, ice cream cakes or tiramisu) are difficult to compost and here's why:
1) Chocolate attracts pests, animals and maggots, which are dirty and will harm your compost, plants and garden.
2) The artificial sugars in chocolate can also attract the wrong types of bacteria into your compost pile which can end up harming your plants rather than helping them.
3) Dairy milk products are very smelly when turned sour! We usually recommend avoiding composting diary if your have a DIY compost in your garden.
Although, the tiny amounts of milk and butter in breads are okay as they are cooked into the batter and will not smell when moulded.
So how can I know what I can and cannot compost?
An easy way to sort through your food waste at home is to think of it in 3 parts:
1) If I can grow it in my garden, I can compost it!
Fruit and veggies. Herbs and spices. Grains, seeds, nuts and legumes. Rice grains.
These are all compostable!
2) If it is made using organic, natural ingredients, it can be composted!
Breads, Flours, Oats and Pasta are made from natural ingredients, such as Wheat, Rye, Vegetables or Seeds, so these can be composted.
Plant-based milks - Almond, Oat, Macadamia and Soy - are compostable. We recommend avoiding composting dairy milks and dairy products (yogurt, cheese or ice cream) as these smell horrendous when sour and attract pests.
Organic Juices, pesto and tomato sauces, made from vegetables, fruits, nuts, spices and oils are good to compost too. Avoid adding too much liquid to your composts as this can turn your compost pile anaerobic and smelly.
Organic sugars, organic dark chocolate, organic jams, peanut butter, tea leaves and coffee beans are also all compostable.
Artificial flavours, sugars and additives are not organic nor naturally found in your garden, therefore are not compostable!
3) If it comes from an animal, it cannot be composted (except for eggs).
Eggs and egg cartons are the exception, as these can be composted and are very good for your compost! Eggs shells can attract compost worms which will help with the biodegradable process.
All other meats, fish, bones or animal products cannot be composted and here's why:
They take a very long time to breakdown often causing your compost to become anaerobic,
They produce a horrible smell which can attract pests and animals, and;
They can attract the wrong types of bacteria to your compost which can harm your plants and garden.