Food waste is no yolk as Council launches compost trial

21 August 2020

Miramar Peninsula residents are being encouraged to sign-up for Para Kai, a new Wellington City Council food waste trial looking at ways to divert leftovers from landfill.

Image of ParaKai food trial marketing campaign

Food waste makes up about a third of domestic rubbish going to Southern Landfill at a huge cost to Wellingtonians and the environment – but this trial on the Miramar Peninsula is designed to address these issues.

The trial has two parts with up to 450 households recruited to try composting their food waste in either a compost bin, worm farm, or a bokashi system. This will coincide with a kerbside collection of binned food scraps from 500 households in the area.

The trial will run for over 12 months, and the results and feedback will be used to inform a city-wide solution for food waste in the future, says Mayor Andy Foster.

“Wellington households throw away on average about three kilogrammes of food every week, which adds up to over $600 a year per home. One way to reduce this is with changes to our buying and consumption behaviour, but the next best thing we can do is compost our organic waste.

“Many of us will compost already but we understand it’s not easy for everyone to do this, so we’re looking at a number of options to weigh up the pros and cons with this initiative. Some food waste is also not compostable in all systems, such as meat products.

“This work is part of Council’s Resilience and Environment priority set out in the 10-year plan, and will go towards Council’s commitment in reducing waste from 600kg/person per year to 400kg/person by 2026.”

Local resident and Motukairangi/Eastern Ward Deputy Mayor Sarah Free says the Miramar Peninsular is the perfect area for this trial to be held.

“The Miramar Peninsula is an ideal study site as it comprises a diverse range of established communities representative of Wellington’s demographics, socio-economics, and topography in a relatively small and contained spatial area.

“We also work closely with Predator Free Wellington and their trial there – which is also reliant on composting done well to help in our pest eradication campaign.

“Over 80% of Kiwis believe wasting food is wrong, yet food accounted for 32 per cent of what had been put in kerbside bins by Wellington households in 2018. Small but effective initiatives like home composting can make a big impact, so we encourage people in the Peninsula to be a part of this trial – and a part of that change.”

Not only is food waste a cost to the consumer, but it’s also a cost to the environment, says Waste Free Wellington portfolio lead, Councillor Laurie Foon.

“Wellington has an opportunity to benefit from the circular economy, and one of the best things we can do to achieve that is to make sure our food waste goes into a circular system, that rebuilds our soils, not our landfill.

“Food waste is high in nutrients, but when it goes to landfill that value is gone. Food waste collected at the kerbside ends up in our landfill where it decomposes without oxygen and releases methane into the air – a harmful greenhouse gas.

“If we can get a solution to our food waste this will dramatically reduce our waste emissions which currently contribute to 6% of our overall city carbon emissions.

“With approximately $600K of Waste Levy funding budgeted for the Para Kai Miramar Trial in the Long-Term Plan there will be no additional cost to the ratepayer – but the benefits will be priceless.”

Key dates for the Para Kai trial:

  • The kerbside collection letter goes out to 500 households across the Miramar Peninsula this Friday 21 August
  • Recruitment for the Home Composting part of trial begins from next week Monday 24 August. Wellington City Council has developed a targeted communications campaign for this part of the trial including a website with a survey, social media campaign and posters around the Miramar Peninsula. We’ll also be doing some pop-up events to recruit residents and inform them of the trial later in the month depending on COVID-19 alert level requirements
  • Early October bins delivered to households
  • Friday 16 October – trial begins

Kerbside collection:

  • 500 households in a Miramar suburb will receive a food scraps bin for weekly collection
  • The contents of the food scraps bin will be taken to Capital Compost at the Southern Landfill, be mixed with green waste and turned into useful compost
  • Data will be gathered to measure diversion, as well as understanding householders’ attitudes, awareness and actions surrounding food waste

Home composting:

  • Residents of the Miramar Peninsula will have the chance to volunteer to participate in the home composting trial
  • Participants need to NOT be currently composting at home
  • Participants can choose from the three bin choices: compost bins, worm farms and bokashi systems
  • Participants will receive a free bin and educational support in partnership with the Sustainability Trust and Kaicycle, to begin diverting kitchen waste from landfill and making useful compost at home
  • Data will be gathered to understand the amount of food waste diverted, as well as householders’ attitudes, awareness and actions surrounding food waste

For more information about Para Kai, to see if you fit the criteria, and to sign up for the trial visit wellington.govt.nz/foodwaste or wellington.govt.nz/parakai.