Many years ago, composting was something that city dwellers knew little or nothing about. More recently when I have been speaking to many people across different apartment complexes, I would hear people speak about composting usually in the past tense ! It turned out that many would have tried and then given up composting due to problems like foul smell or liquid leaching out etc. I could well empathise with them as I too have gone through this journey with several failed attempts at composting.,
As in cooking, composting too has a few recipes which work. The good news is that unlike disasters in cooking (where you might burn your food when you don't get it right), in composting, even if things go horribly wrong, you will still end up with compost simply because decomposition is a natural process. The difference between doing a good of composting and simply allowing things to decay is how the process takes place. Does it smell bad ? Does it leach ? Is it full of maggots and flies ? If the answer is 'yes' to any of these, then we need to learn our recipe properly.
If we take some wet kitchen waste and close it in an airtight container (or a plastic bag as many people do), it begins to smell foul because the process of degradation that is taking place is due to anaerobic (lack of air) bacteria. The results of such decomposition are a host of smelly gases and also Methane all of which are harmful to the environment and even the ozone layer. On the other hand, if we take the same amount of wet waste and spread it out in the open, then the foul smell would be drastically reduced or even absent as aerobic decomposition releases mainly carbon dioxide and nitrogen, both of which are odourless (and naturally present in the atmosphere too).
To do a proper job of aerobic composting, the wet kitchen waste which is rich in Nitrogen, needs to be mixed with (approximately half the volume) of dry carbon rich waste such as dry leaves. The dry leaves also help absorb the excess moisture and prevent leaching. Periodic mixing prevents formation of clumps (within which local anaerobic decomposition could happen). If the mixture is managed correctly, you would be happy to see the decomposition process happen not just quickly but also neatly.
This short video shows how to compost at home without any special equipment.
If you intend to this for your community, then Prudent Eco Systems has solutions to offer. Do check it out on www.prudentecosystems.com