Service to recycle food waste and cut disposal costs

Trish Allen is delighted waste destined for landfill will be recycled into a useful product.

Households currently forced to pay to send their food waste to landfill will have the chance to reduce their waste disposal costs, and benefit the environment at the same time, following the introduction of a new composting service.

Mahurangi Wastebusters now accepts free-of-charge, food scraps at their Lawrie Road (Snells Beach) and Rustybrook Road (Wellsford) recycling centres. Further drop-off points are planned as the service expands.

The scraps will be composted and then sold for use as fertiliser in recycled bags and, eventually, by the trailer-load.    

The new service comes after Mahurangi Wastebusters won a $30,900 grant last month from Auckland Council’s Waste Minimisation Innovation Fund, which has allowed the organisation to expand its fledgling composting service at Matakana Farmers Market.  

The market has always had a zero-waste policy and until recently sent its compostable material to

Tuakau to be processed by fertiliser supplier Envirofert. But since September, Mahurangi Wastebusters has begun processing the market’s compostables, which includes foodscraps, cardboard plates, serviettes and coffee cups.  

The material is put through a shedder and then mixed in compost boxes with an appropriate ratio of carbon and nitrogen-rich matter.

The result is a hot compost (65C), which kills pathogens and breaks down the corn starch in coffee cups and lids.

Mahurangi Wastebusters community engagement specialist Trish Allen says she is excited about getting the Council grant to extend the service to households and other businesses.

It means waste will be diverted from landfill, recycled into a useful product and will save money for those who can’t recycle at home and are compelled to put their food scraps in orange rubbish bags, which they must pay for.

Businesses already benefitting from the expanded service include Matakana Smokehouse, Sawmill Brewery and Daily Organics, who are trialling the composting of fish skins, and the remains of hops and tea respectively.   

Ms Allen says before increasing the number of food waste drop-off points for householders,

Wastebusters will first need to work out a system to prevent general waste being dumped in the bins.
She anticipates the Bokashi composting system will be deployed at the drop-off points. This will ensure the compost does not rot and will require pick-up only twice a week to minimise transport costs.

Te Hana Te Ao Marama Marae, in Te Hana, also benefitted from the Waste Minimisation Innovation Fund (WMIF) to the tune of $9490.

Marae supervisory manager Linda Clapham says the money will provide for the staging of four workshops/hui, which will focus on the need to create less food and general waste at the marae, and encourage more composting and recycling.

She says marae trustees have long been conscious of the need to follow Maori values of kaitiakitanga (guardianship) and previously have organised the clean up the Te Hana Creek riverbank, which saw the removal of tonnes of rubbish including noxious weeds, tyres and car bodies, and the planting of natives.

“The situation that the marae faces now is not the old car tyres on the riverbank but over-packaged, over-wrapped everyday items that end up in a landfill somewhere and that are capable of doing the same damage to our environment and harbour somewhere else,” she says.   

Altogether, 51 community organisations and businesses benefitted from the most recent WMIF funding round, which saw the distribution of $649,256 for a range of projects designed to promote waste minimisation.  

Council general manager of waste solutions Parul Sood says its encouraging to see the common actions of so many different groups to reduce the amount of waste they send to landfill.

“The zero-waste vision is clear from playcentres to youth groups, business associations, construction experts, marae and community organisations,” he says.    

The WMIF is funded by a levy the Government exacts from waste dumped in landfill. The idea behind the levy is to discourage the use of landfill and encourage the diversion of recoverable resources into productive uses.   

The WMIF will open its next funding round in April.

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