Food and garden waste in landfill doesn’t compost. It rots underground creating a toxic liquid that, if it escapes, puts our waterways at risk from pollution. It also generates methane; a greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change.
We can avoid all this by composting at home or work, and using this fantastic nutrient-rich material to grow plants and veges.
- Composting is easy and it takes very little time to compost your food scraps.
- Composting is cheap. Apart from the initial investment in a composting bin, there are virtually no additional costs to composting. It could even save you money on plant food if you are growing your own veges.
- Compost is a great way of adding nutrients to your soil. It can help produce higher yields of fruit, vegetables, and flowers. It can loosen clay soils, help sandy soils retain water, and it can suppress plant diseases and pests. It is capable of all this without containing petroleum-based compounds that most commercial fertilisers do.
- Balanced compost does not produce strong smells. Only composting that is done incorrectly produces a nasty smell. Simply make sure to add enough browns to your compost and keep dairy products and meats out of your compost pile. These can be put into a Bokashi bin instead.
- Composting puts biomass back into the soil rather than taking it away. Soils are vital in carbon sequestration and water retention, with approximately 20% of global carbon being stored in soil.
- Composting reduces the methane gas emissions from compostables in landfill. Methane is 23 times more damaging in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide, so reducing food scraps in landfill can help reduce the greenhouse effect and climate change.
Composting at home
We can help you get up and running with a composting system to suit your household. Whether you are a keen gardener or not, there is a system for everyone. We also run composting workshops to support you on your composting journey. View our events calendar to find the next workshop.
Bokashi like a pro
Rosie from the Compost Collective talks about the Bokashi system and how to put it to work.
This is a method of intensive composting that is particularly well suited for an urban environment due to its fully contained nature, its compact size, and the wide range of food types that can be put into the system.
The food is placed in a sealed self draining bucket system and is then inoculated with Bokashi Effective Micro-organisms (EM), kicking off a fermentation process that pickles the food waste. The application of EM reduces the amount of odour that often occurs when food decomposes.
Once the container is full, the fermented food waste is placed into the ground where it breaks down and becomes compost within weeks. The liquid that collects in the bottom bucket should be tipped down your toilet each week to increase the health of your septic tank and reduce plumbing odours.
Become a worm farmer
Claire Mummery from the Compost Collective introduces us to the art of worm-farming.
A worm farm is a self-contained unit (in several different sizes) in which worms eat biodegradable waste. The process uses most types (70%) of food waste mixed with waste paper and cardboard (30%), and produces a soil end product (worm-castings) as well as worm-juice (worm tea); both extremely nutrient rich and excellent for use in gardens. Worm farms use 2 types of worms, generally either the tiger worm or the red worm.
250g of worms will go through around 200g of food. This is about a cup of food a day. The worms can eat their own body weight each day and as the population grows you will be able to feed them more.
Worms like to eat most fruit and vegetable scraps, but don't particularly like citrus, chili, garlic or onions. They like coffee grounds & tea bags, used paper, egg shells and will also take care of your dust from your vacuum cleaner & hair!
Be careful how much processed foods, flour based foods, such as bread, and cooked foods you give to your worms. They will handle a small amount but would prefer fresh foods.
Auckland’s Compost Collective
Waiheke Resources Trust works with the Compost Collective. Their goal is to inform and engage as many people as possible about the benefits of composting and help people reduce their kerbside waste. They are an Auckland regional resource that is supported by Auckland Council. The Compost Collective wants to entertain, engage, empower and encourage the community to learn about smart gardening, food waste prevention and waste minimisation.
Composting at work
Waiheke Resources Trust manages a compostable collection service on Waiheke Island called the Compost Co. The project offers a food waste collection service to local restaurants and community groups and collects and processes single use compostable packaging from coffee shops and zero waste events.
The project began in February 2018 and has grown into a sustainable business that can process over 20 tonnes of food waste a year. The Compost Co. is committed to reducing waste from landfill, offering the only commercial compostable packaging service on the Island.
If you are a business on Waiheke that is currently looking for waste solutions, please get in touch.
The Compost Co.
Kayleigh Appleton works for WRT and is a composting pro. Find out about the Compost Co from Kayleigh and why we must manage our waste better.
Twice a week there is a collection service that picks up 120l air tight food waste wheelie bins, plus other bins full of compostable packaging. All the compostable products are taken onsite to Te Motu Estate Vineyard, our partner providing the land.
Packaging gets shredded, food gets fermented or put raw into NZbox compost bins and mixed with different carbon ("brown") materials. The Hot compost is turned regularly while the Bokashi anaerobic compost stays cooler, allowing worms to populate and do their work. The hot compost is important for the breakdown of PLA (Polylactic Acid) in the compostable containers and to kill any pathogens that may exist.
The Bokashi compost is important for maintaining carbon mass and nutrient value throughout decomposition.
Why is composting so important?
The majority of Waiheke’s compostable waste and biodegradable material going to landfill is from businesses. Once compostable materials reach landfill, they don't turn into compost: instead, it is trapped underground and rots. Forever.
This causes problems such as the release of methane gas and the filtration of liquid from the food scraps through the landfill, which then has to be collected and treated onsite to prevent contaminated leachate reaching and polluting our waterways. However, these issues can easily be minimised by making use of all food scraps and other organic material through composting.
Volunteer with Compost Co.
The Compost Co. welcomes volunteers who can help to sort the compostable material, mixing the organic materials into the compost bins, turning the compost and by cleaning and maintaining the site.
We can help you get you started at home with workshops, support and composting products including Bokashi systems and worm farms. We even sell our own compost and crushed shells for the garden. If you're a business looking to manage food scraps and compostables sustainably, we want to hear from you too. Visit the Sustainability Centre for supplies or get in touch.
Thank you BIO-ZYME
BIO-ZYME is a NZ-made, environmentally and user-friendly cleaner, degreaser and deodorizer – a healthier and safer alternative to toxic cleaners, solvents, caustics and bleaches. BIO-ZYME products are available at the Sustainability Centre in 1L recycable bottles and refills thereof. A portion of the proceeds from BIO-ZYME is donated to The Compost Co.