A weekend to trade with compost

17:00, Aug 28 2014
Steve Rickerby
CAPTAIN PLANET: Steve Rickerby is on a mission to get Aucklanders thinking about how they dispose of their food waste.

Food scraps have never seemed so appealing.

Hold on to that rotten tomato or manky mandarin. Very soon they can be turned into delectable goods - thanks to Steve Rickerby's We Compost Weekend.

Four years ago the 33-year-old gave up his life as an insurance man to start up his Eden Tce based organic waste collection business, We Compost.

EASY AS: An example of the bag which people need to fill with compost.

Now Rickerby is on a mission to change the way people think about food scraps by putting a dollar value on what would normally end up in the bin.

Last year the Auckland Council kerbside collection picked up about 183,200 tonnes of rubbish. About half of that was compostable.

"I want to start seeding a change so that people at home think twice before throwing away their food scraps," Rickerby said.


Mike Murphy
WORTHY CAUSE: Kokako managing director Mike Murphy holds up one of the Kokako cold brews which could be yours for a few scraps.

A T-shirt, a cold-brew coffee or a tasty macaroon are just a few of the goods that can be traded for a small brown bag of organic waste, over the weekend of September 6 and 7.

"If we can add a value to it just this one time then those people will think about it and hopefully a portion of those people will do something about it," he said.

"If they set up compost bins or worm farms at home, or encourage their work place to start composting, or tell their friends about it then it will be worth it."

Andrew Howson
LEADING EXAMPLE: Sitka owner Andrew Howson says it’s up to businesses to set the agenda.

He said at first We Compost customers thought he was crazy to expect them to give away goods in return for rubbish, but now he has a number of businesses on board for the event.

Kokako managing director Mike Murphy said giving waste a value is an engaging way to reinforce what the company stands for.

"People have become complacent and we need to re-engineer people's thinking about how to separate waste streams."

WRIGGLING WORKERS: One of the on-site Kokako worm bins where excess waste which doesn’t get picked up by We Compost goes to be broken down.

"The last thing a lot of families may think about is how they are going to separate their compostables from their recyclables and their general waste but you have to start somewhere."

Sitka owner Andrew Howson said selling clothes and running a business doesn't exempt you from looking after the environment.

"I feel that businesses are obliged to start looking after the planet.

"There is an awareness now, that what we have in the natural world is limited and precious and we need to protect it."

Megan May from Little Bird Organics and The Unbakery said she is doing her best to help move that way of life into popular culture.

"I grew up in a more fringe environment where we just composted, it was the norm," she said. "It is getting that into a mainstream audience where it is really normal for everyone to do."

The Mt Eden resident said she has already seen the benefit of being involved with We Compost.

"It has impacted on the way our staff view things and then they pass that on to the customers."

Turning scraps into currency is just taking it a step further, she said.

The council has supported Rickerby's project through the Waste Minimisation and Innovation Fund which was set up to support projects that help reduce waste to landfill.

A council spokesperson said Aucklanders will receive bins for an organics collection service for food waste and other organic items from 2016.

"Residents will receive equipment when the service comes to their area, including a small kitchen-top bin for collecting their food scraps and peelings, and a kerbside bin that goes out every week."

The spokesperson says the organic waste will be sent to a processing plant rather than being sent to landfill.

To become a zero-waste city by 2040 there needs to be a culture shift "where people start to see their rubbish as a resource".

Go to the We Compost Facebook page for a full list of the businesses taking part in the weekend.

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