Compost training at the municipality level

City of Pau


Compost training at the municipality level


The city hall of Pau is organizing, thanks to facilitators and trainers, online and face-to-face activities to teach people who have gardens about composting before giving them compost bins.

1. Organisation hosting the activity


City of Pau

Legal status


Year of establishment



Pau, Pyrénées-Atlantiques, France.

The city of Pau has been organising composting workshops since 2012 thanks to several organisations that aim to promote composting. The organisers are nationally recognised volunteers through the RCC network (Réseau des Compostateurs Citoyens) as official “composting guides” or “composting masters”, recognised nationally through the RCC network (Réseau des Compostateurs Citoyens). Since 2019, the workshops have been extended and included in the city’s bio-waste policy: following online training and face-to-face workshops with the aim of this policy to reduce the number of bio-waste thanks to these individual composters. The citizens of Pau who live in a house get a compost bin that they can place in their garden. Those citizens living in flats, on the other hand, can obtain “bio-bins” that can be emptied in collective composters, mapped on this website. There are currently 96 in the city. The collective composters have two functions: people can bring their bio-waste and also mature compost, ready to be used in the gardens. 

This policy is being implemented, in 2022, in the framework of the AGEC law, starting in 2022, which aims to reduce the fraction of bio-waste in residual waste by providing every citizen with the possibility to recycle their bio-waste, while all producers will be obliged to organise a sorting among the waste by 31 December 2023.

2. Activity detailed description

In France, there is a long tradition of composting. There is a current network of compost guides and compost masters dating from the end of the 2000s, with the RCC (Network of Citizen Composters). Organization lobbying for the development of collective compost sites, they created two different training: compost guides and compost masters. The guide is usually the person going on the field, meeting people, citizens, while the master has more responsibilities, is in contact with the decision makers. Not all masters are training prospective guides, but you need to be one to train them. Each training is 5-6 days training. We must underline that these 2 certifications do not make compost guide and compost master an official job: to be recognized as an official job title, a whole week of training is not enough. It concludes with a self-evaluation usually passes without problem. For the masters, you have to write a 15-page thesis about a specific project, either in progress or already finalized, and defend it in front of a jury of 2 people, a professional of the sector (responsible for the waste services of a community, etc.) and a master.

In 2022, due to a change of certification of competences, the two titles are changing, and the compost guide competences will be officially recognized in a training to “Support and raise awareness of the practice of prevention and local management of bio-waste”. The compost master competences will be recognized, on their side, as “Organization and deployment of prevention operations and local management of bio-waste on the territory.” This time, instead of a self-evaluation, due to the change of certification system at the national level, the learners need to produce a portfolio and to pass an exam before the RCC validates the title.

The facilitators of these workshops are usually at least compost guides, or compost masters. The best is to organize the workshop in a place that has already composting activities.

In terms of training and experience, besides the obvious training in composting, the facilitator needs to have a capacity to adapt. Not only they have to know how a well-functioning compost location work, but also how to identify the issues and problems met in a site, and how to fix them.

One of the challenges usually met is the fear of composting, in the sense that people can have some preconceived ideas about the smell, the bugs, etc. The workshop is made in the composting site exactly for these reasons: to show to people what composting is really and to encourage them to reduce their waste, therefore understanding how less waste can impact climate change.

The following paragraph presents an example of compost workshop, ideally set in a place that is already composting, to be able to illustrate the discussions.

Implementation steps

  • 1. Preparation
    • Identify a place that is already a composting zone (school, college, collective restaurant, community garden, etc.) to host the workshop
    • Collect compostable organic materials (peelings, grass clippings, coffee grounds, eggshells, cardboard, straw, dead leaves, sawdust…) and non-compostable waste (plastics, metal). You can also ask to the participants to bring some from their home.
    • Look for a vermicomposter (if possible, working) and see if it is possible to borrow it.
    • The day of the event, please transport the material to the workshop place.
  • 2. Getting to know the participants and their needs

    After an introduction of the workshop, the facilitator asks the participants what products they use for cooking, if they already make compost and how, what they are expecting from the workshop to ensure that they understand its goals.

    During this phase that is very important, the trainer needs to identify what are the needs of the participants, through a diagnostic of their biowastes. What are the kind of aliments that they cook? Do they have plants, grass that they usually cut?  This will allow the trainer, that has to be experimented, to do a diagnostic.

  • 3. Principles of composting
    • Presentation of the different wastes available (found by the facilitator, brought by the participants or in photos previously printed by the facilitator).
    • Give each person a piece of waste and ask them to sort it into two groups: what is compostable and what is not.
    • Explain later what can and cannot be composted and why.
    • Presentation of the different composting techniques: surface composting, in a heap, in a composter, in a vermicomposter; domestic (garden composter and with vermicomposter), collective…
    • Depending on the place, the available materials, realization of a hot or cold compost

    During this second step, the facilitator will present the compost phases (fermentation, hygienization, cooling, maturation) and it will include the biodiversity that can be found, the role of the worms. It is important to do the workshop in a place with an active compost, if possible, at various stages, to illustrate them.

  • 4. Modalities of implementation

    During this last step, the participants receive the composter with an explanation on how to set it up, and can bring it back home.

3. Gallery

4. Conclusions

The number of composting promotion workshops is growing in Europe, in particularly in France due to the AGEC law that aims oblige by 2024 to separate biowastes from the rest of the wastes, at the source. This is an application of the European circular of 2018. It is easily transferable as all European are developing compost activities, most community gardens creating compost spaces. The learning objectives of these workshops are clear: to make people understand their impact on climate change, and that they can, through composting, reduce the number of incinerated wastes and therefore the emission of CO2.

There is no real limit or problem that would stop this. But we can say that we need the support, like in the case of Pau and most cities of France, of the local authorities. These organizations have the strength and the money to fund distribution of composters, to pay facilitators that will implement the workshops. The willingness to apply the European circular will play a crucial role in this.

Advice / Recommendation

“The support of the municipalities or collective authorities is the key to the success of a composting policy”.
“To be able to show how to compost, you have to lead by doing yourself, in your site, what you teach others to do”.