Our Wellington

News | 18 May 2021

Embracing the benefits of the Bokashi system

Food waste makes up about a third of domestic rubbish going to Pōneke’s Southern Landfill. This comes at a huge cost to Wellingtonians and the environment.

To help find a city-wide solution to combat the issue, Wellington City Council is running Para Kai Miramar, a year-long initiative which sees 450 households on the Miramar Peninsula trial one of three different composting methods.

We checked in with Seatoun resident, Fiona, to find out how she and her whānau were getting on with their Bokashi system.

A young boy in a green sweatshirt, next to his sister in a white t-shirt, and their parents huddled together holding a black Bokashi bin with green lid, standing in front of green bush and trees.
Samuel, Amelia, Fiona, and Alex with their Bokashi bin.

To begin with, Fiona says her two children weren’t too keen on the smell, but given some time, they have come to understand and appreciate the benefits of their Bokashi bin.

The Bokashi system consists of two stacked buckets (one with holes for liquid to drain from into the other) with a tight-fitting lid. In it goes the food scraps that produce a fermented material, which is then buried in the ground to allow for the composting process to finish.

“It’s great because the kids can get involved and being part of the trial has promoted loads of great conversations about decomposition, reducing food waste, doing our bit for the environment, what lives in the soil, and much more!

“The liquid that comes out of the Bokashi system is fairly potent. We have been diluting it and watering it on the plants.”

Fiona says the Bokashi system is really easy to use.

“We just sprinkle the Bokashi mix over the food scraps every other day, press it all down with an old potato masher and keep the lid on tight! After three weeks, we dig a hole in the back of the garden and chuck it in.”

What comes out of the bucket resembles a giant, colourfully-striped ice block, and the kids take turns burying the mound.

A colourful block of food scraps in a dirt hole dug in a lawn.
Food scraps from the Bokashi bin produce a fermented material that is then buried in the ground.

“We like the bokashi system because it doesn't take up much space and we can just have an ice cream container on the bench for food scraps and easily empty this every other day,” Fiona says.

“I have also learnt that cutting larger things into small pieces is going to make for a quicker decomposition.”

She says composting has reduced her household waste by half.

“We have been really surprised by how much we actually threw out before, and we’ve been saving a lot on rubbish bags!"

So would Fiona recommend a Bokashi bin to others?

“Absolutely! It's so satisfying to put food waste to a good use instead of it contributing to global warming in a landfill.”

A girl with a space and sneakers, digging dirt over brightly coloured compost on a lawn.
Amelia covering the food scraps with soil to allow for the composting process to finish.

Kerbside collection

In addition to the backyard composters, Council is trialling a kerbside collection of binned food scraps from 500 households on the Miramar Peninsula. The collected food waste is delivered to the Capital Compost facility at the Southern Landfill and turned into compost.

Preliminary results show that participating households are diverting an average of 3 kilograms of food waste per week from landfill, with an estimated total of about 16,442kg diverted since Para Kai launched in mid-October 2020.

The results from the Para Kai trial will be used to inform a city-wide solution for food waste. Find out more about the Miramar Peninsula Para Kai trial.