How did your business begin?
We bought the business two years ago, it was an existing business that started approx 20 years ago.
Why do you do what you do? What is your mission and vision for the future?
We love the whole ‘circular economy’ concept and we really feel we are making a difference in our community. The local council are desperate to get to their lower landfill targets so they discourage green waste going to their landfill facilities and direct customers to us instead. Green waste is a product that can be removed from landfill easily, it just takes some education which we are aiming to do.
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 your business fit into the New Zealand composting story?
We take the regions green waste, and over a period of two to three years we turn it into rich, organically produced green waste. Our composting method is aerobic, so there is no toxic methane and greenhouse gas emissions.
As a compost collection partner, is your business facilitating the waste collection and commercial composting of food waste and BioPak compostable packaging. What happens after the waste is collected? What does the composting process look like at your business?
We only have consent for green waste and compostable packaging so can not take any food waste. Everything gets mulched first, when compostable packaging comes in we mix it with the green waste when mulched. The mulching process dramatically reduces the volume of the green waste, and allows the composting process to begin quicker and take less time overall. It is then pushed up into large piles called windrows. The windrows are monitored closely, checking regularly for temperature and moisture levels. They are periodically rolled, which helps the composting process also as this provides oxygen, and helps regulate the temperature. The windrows are irrigated if they are starting to get dry as they need moisture for the microbes to thrive. After a few years, the rows that have made their way to the front (after being rolled) are ready to be screened, stored in the shed and then sold.
Have you had to adapt your processes to accept BioPak products?
We did do a bit of experimenting, but found there wasn’t too much to change. We just have to be careful how we receive the compostable packaging as we do need to keep it separate to be dealt with at certain times, under certain conditions.
How much compost do you produce in a year?
Approx 4,000 tonnes per year. Each year we are growing quite rapidly however.
Do you have to maintain any standards or certifications for the compost?
No, but we do compost nutrition testing and toxin testing annually.
At the end of the process, what kinds of soil are produced, and where do they end up?
We produce from the green waste our compost, and also a product called lawnpost which we use a higher percentage of lawn clippings in which makes it higher in nitrogen which lawns love. The bulk of lawnpost is sold to landscaping contractors who lay lawns professionally. The rest, along with the bulk of the compost is sold to the general public.
How do you manage the risk of contamination to organic waste? I.e. non-compostable waste making its way into the waste collection bin.
This is always a problem. Contamination can be detrimental to our compost and also cause major damage to our machinery. We try and inspect people’s loads as they come in, we have multiple signs up about contamination which threatens fines if caught, and our loader driver is very careful when dropping loads into the mulcher to shake the load first so heavy objects fall out.
Who are your major customers?
We receive all Nelson City Council’s green waste, the general public and landscaping contractors.
What are some of the challenges with composting?
Keeping the piles moist enough to keep composting in the optimal time frame, then dry enough at the end of the process to screen it to sell. Space is another problem, as we could use more land to expand further.
What is the best way for people to advocate for commercial composting in their city?
We find it great that our local councils either refuse to take green waste in their landfill facilities and send them to us, or they have a separate green waste bin that we get anyway.
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