Composting trial begins

From left, Wainui students Ollie Steen and Bowen Jonkers McAllister tipping scraps into the school’s food bin.

A Hibiscus Coast school and café are contributing food scraps to a local composting trial.

The scheme was initiated recently by Hibiscus Coast Zero Waste – the group that runs the Whangaparaoa Community Recycling Centre – to divert food scraps from landfill.

In landfill, food scraps break down into the greenhouse gas methane, but when composted they contribute valuable carbon and minerals to the soil.

Hibiscus Coast Zero Waste is providing the equipment and training to assist cafés and restaurants to separate out their food scraps during the trial.

Two Spoons café co-owner, Nigel Middleton, is enthusiastic about the project. He says since separating food scraps from the rest of the rubbish, the volume of waste going into his bin has significantly reduced.

“Because there are no longer odours coming from our rubbish bin, we could switch from a weekly collection to a fortnightly collection,” Nigel says. He says these savings would more than cover the cost of the food scrap collection, which is currently $15 per 2 litre bucket.

At the same time, children at Wainui School have been working with composting expert Richard Lee of Hatfields Beach, learning to separate their food scraps – a process Richard describes as “challenging, but worthwhile”.

The food scraps will be transported to the Waitoki property of Phil and Jenny Grainger to be buried in shallow trenches near banana palms. Food scraps break down quickly via this system, known as a ‘banana swale’.

“If this works, I will have increased my topsoil enough to enable a switch from low value grazing to high value banana production,” Phil says. The Graingers are hoping to host open days once the project is more developed to encourage more farmers to get involved.

Another aspect of the project is monitoring the change in soil carbon levels as composted food scraps are added, and measuring the carbon footprint of the project.

Hibiscus Coast Zero Waste hopes to expand the trial and is looking for more cafés or restaurants, a college and retirement village to participate. Info: email hibiscuscoastzerowaste@gmail.com


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