Food waste scheme needs more business buy-in

Posted at 4:40pm Tuesday 13 Oct, 2020

Eighty banana palms on a farm at Waitoki are flourishing thanks to food scraps collected from commercial premises on the Hibiscus Coast, which would otherwise have gone to landfill.

The City to Farm Comporting trial run by Hibiscus Coast Zero Waste has, in 20 months, diverted 40 tonnes of food waste. And Sustainable North Trust trustee Betsy Kettle says that's just the beginning.

The trust has applied to Auckland Council's Waste Minimisation Fund for a $50,000 grant to expand the scheme, with a decision likely to be known sometime next month.

“If successful, we hope to increase the amount we collect to somewhere between 200 and 300 tonnes a year,” Betsy says.

Composting not only diverts waste from landfill where it produces methane, but it also supports photosynthesis, which removes carbon from the atmosphere. Currently, about half of what Auckland sends to landfill could be composted.

“Our current operation is carbon neutral according to Dr Sarah McLaren, from at Massey University, who is the NZ Life Cycle Management Centre director.

“She believes we will be carbon negative (ie taking carbon out of the atmosphere) after the expansion.”

Betsy says one of the hurdles the scheme has struggled with is getting more buy-in from commercial food waste producers.

“Unfortunately, under the current waste collection system, food premises are charged on volume, not weight. If it were the other way around, then it would make sense for them to pay us to get rid of the waste because food waste is heavy.”

Betsy hopes that the increase in the waste levy will focus people's minds on how much food is going to landfill and the impact this is having on the environment.

Two businesses that have come on board early in the scheme are the Evelyn Page Retirement Village and the Two Spoons cafe in Whangaparāoa.

Two Spoons co-owners Trish and Nigel Middleton say they have always been mindful of their impact on the environment as a business.

“It's built into our valves to find the best ways to support sustainable practices,” they say. “We had outgrown composting through our backyard and needed another sustainable system to deal with organic food waste and paper waste.”

They say the City to Farm scheme is easy and doesn't smell, and they would encourage other businesses to get involved.

“It takes soft paper as well as food scraps, so it hugely reduces the amount of food scraps and paper waste going into landfill.

“We have now diverted three tonnes of food scraps and soft paper over the last year using this system.”

Betsy is keen to hear from businesses that would like to be involved. To learn more, contact Betsy Kettle on 021 0826 8196 or hibiscuscoastzerowaste@gmail.com or visit the Hibiscus Coast Zero Waste Facebook page.


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