How did Easy Earth begin?
Easy Earth is the ‘5th child’ of Whanganui locals, Derek and Sarah Pickering. Derek was working in food manufacture, and saw from inside the industry that there was appetite, and budget, for doing the right thing, but not enough infrastructure out there to enable companies to do it. EasyEarth was set up to provide a composting service for ‘hard-to-reach’ organics, including food waste and compostable packaging, using a high-tech in-vessel hot composter.
Why do you do what you do? What is your mission and vision for the future?
We saw composting as the easiest way to make a big difference in our local environment, and profits will be invested in examining other waste problems that need creative and technological solutions.
Composting organic materials at home and in large-scale facilities is part of a growing trend in New Zealand to better manage and re-use organic material. How does Easy Earth fit into New Zealand’s composting story?
Before the mass rollout of plastics, 100% of the waste stream in some parts of Aotearoa was composted. We need to keep our eyes on the lessons of the past as well as the trajectory of the future. At EasyEarth we have been supported by Whanganui District Council and South Taranaki District Council through their Waste Minimisation Funds. Our machine is known as a HotRot and is supplied by a New Zealand-based business who design, build, install and commission integrated Organic Waste Treatment Plants. The company has installed its proprietary HotRot in-vessel composting systems in more than 11 countries since its inception in 2003.
As a compost collection partner, Easy Earth is facilitating the waste collection and commercial composting of food waste and certified compostable packaging. What happens after the waste is collected? What does the composting process look like at Easy Earth?
Composting is a biological process that occurs naturally through bacteria growth and tissue decay. We are using the HotRot system to provide the best conditions for these natural processes to happen and creating nutrient rich and weed-free compost, without causing methane emissions and leachate which are common in most alternative composting systems.
Once the material comes out of the hotrot machine, it is piled into windrows for further decomposition and maturation. We test our compost in many different ways to ensure it is a nutrient rich material that can be used to condition soil and boost plant growth.
Have you had to adapt your processes to accept certified compostable products? Please let us know if you have used BioPak’s certified compostable products.
We were set up to be a solution for compostable packaging. It’s only compostable if you compost it!
How much compost do you produce in a year?
In the last year we diverted over 150 tons of waste from going to landfill, and this number is set to increase each year.
Do you have to maintain any standards or certifications for the compost?
We are guided by the NZS4454 standards for compost production, among others.
At the end of the process, what kinds of soil are produced, and where do they end up?
We will soon be selling our compost at the local market for gardeners and growers to use. We have partnered with a local regenerative farm to see if our compost is appropriate for native reforesting in Aotearoa, as well as experimental vegetable and flower beds to ensure that our compost is having a positive impact on plant growth.
How do you manage the risk of contamination to organic waste? I.e. non-compostable waste making its way into the waste collection bin.
We hand sort our packaging collection and dispose of any stray waste we find, and we screen our compost after it has been through the process.
What is the best way for people to advocate for commercial composting in their city?
In Whanganui, sign up to our service either at your home or your business. If you’re in another city, find out what composting options exist and get in touch with them. Every place and community is different, but often there is similarity in how we can deal with organic waste.
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