why compost? we compost dishes the dirt.

December 18, 2020

The way we manage our waste in New Zealand is coming under more scrutiny every year. With many of our urban centre landfills nearing capacity, the big question is, how can we do this better?

We recently spoke with the team from We Compost, Auckland’s leading compostable waste collection service owned locally by Green Gorilla ,about how composting is the key to a better waste management system, and a cleaner New Zealand.

 

What is We Compost and how/ why did it start?

Back in 2009, We Compost was launched to provide a food waste collection service for businesses who are not able to compost on-site. We provide compostable waste collection services to assist Auckland businesses to minimise their waste to landfill. We Compost is owned by Green Gorilla,Auckland’s largest non-landfill owning full spectrum waste services provider and 100% New Zealand owned.

 

So, what's wrong with how we currently manage our waste?

From a WasteMINZ study in 2016, we know that around 45% of an average household's bin contains compostable waste. In addition to that, approx. 20% of waste sent to landfill is organic. Essentially, this means there is a whole lot of space taken up in landfills with materials that don't need to be in there. This means the lifespan of the landfill is shortened, leading to more landfills being created over time. Organic waste does break down in landfill, but this comes at a cost. A landfill is an oxygen-free or anaerobic environment. The bacteria that survive here produce methane as a by-product of the breakdown process.

Methane is estimated to be 28-36 times more potent than CO2 in terms of global warming potential. Organic waste, as it breaks down, also releases water. This excess water trickles out over all other waste in landfill, creating a toxic liquid called leachate. This can be hard to contain and may leak into the ground below, contaminating waterways and the earth's water table.

What is composting?

Composting is the natural process of recycling organic matter, such as leaves and food scraps, into a valuable fertiliser that can enrich soil and plants. Anything that grows decomposes eventually; composting simply speeds up the process by providing an ideal environment for bacteria, fungi, and other decomposing organisms to do their work. The resulting decomposed matter, which often ends up looking like fertile garden soil, is called compost.

 

What is the difference between commercially compostable and home compostable?

An industrial composting facility optimises the process to ensure rapid biodegradation of organic material by controlling conditions like shredding material to the same size or controlling the temperature and oxygen levels and ensuring that a high quality, toxic-free compost is produced. Home composting produces a nutrient-rich soil over a period of months normally in a backyard compost barrel, or a home compost bins. But, the conditions and temperatures for home composting isn’t suitable for meat, fish or dairy as the smell can attract pests.

 

Why is composting, both commercially and at home, so important?

Composting organic waste reduces greenhouse gas production and links into the circular economy of food. A compost pile decomposes aerobically and produces mainly CO2. Also by composting, we are putting the biomass back into the soil, rather than just taking it away. Ok, I want a WeCompost bin - what can I put in it? Fruits & vegetables Plants &flowers Approved compostable packaging Meat, fish & dairy Shells &bones Eggshells, nutshells (and their paper cartons) Pasta & rice Breads& grains Teabags, coffee grinds & filters Paper bags, towels &newspapers Uncoated paper plates & napkins.

 

Where does We Compost collect from?

We have a range of services for Commercial, Residential andEvents. If I can't have a compost pile, and I'm outside of a collection zone, what is the best thing I could do with all my scraps and compostable packaging?Check your local Council website for their recommended drop-off points i.e.Community gardens etc.

 

How much waste has WeCompost already diverted from our landfills?

Each week we collect over 50,000kg of organic waste to be composted. 8 Million kg to date. Yes, you read that right, 8 MILLION kilograms of waste diverted from our landfills to date. And this is just the beginning for a transformation of our waste management system that is long overdue. If you’d like to enquire about signing up for WeCompost collections for your business, event or home, head over to their website wecompost.co.nz.