Author: Emily Donnelly
Food waste makes up over one-third of household waste and when it ends up in landfill it creates methane, which is a greenhouse gas 20 times more powerful than carbon dioxide.
It is becoming increasingly common for Australians to find ways to divert food from landfill and to turn it into a valuable resource.
Living in an apartment with limited space is no barrier to recycling your food scraps. Sara, Planet Ark's media manager, has been using a Bokashi Bucket for the last two years with great success.
Bokashi buckets work by fermenting food scraps rather than composing them in the traditional sense. Food scraps are put in an airtight bucket then dried, and dormant microorganisms are sprinkled over them. Once in contact with the food, the microorganisms begin to ferment the scraps. The food waste needs to be in the bucket for at least two weeks before it is ready to be buried in soil. After a period of 4-6 weeks the waste breaks down into incredibly rich compost, which can be used as a topsoil or potting mix additive.
Sara says there are two key advantages of using a Bokashi Bucket. Firstly, they don't take up a lot of space so are ideal for a unit or small kitchen and secondly, you can place almost all of your food scraps in them, including meat, dairy and citrus, which are harder to process in traditional compost systems.
For more information on Bokashi buckets visit http://www.bokashi.com.au.
Councils across the country are leading the way in dealing with food waste. More and more councils are adding food scrap services to their regular collections with examples ranging from Penrith and Coffs Harbour in New South Wales to a few metropolitan councils in Adelaide and City of Sterling in Perth.
As well as scheduled collections councils also provide other programs to help cut food scraps going to landfill. Claire, Planet Ark's Information Centre Officer, recently joined Marrickville Council's free Compost Collective Program, aimed at apartment and townhouse dwellers. The scheme provides free compost bins, signage, bench top organics bins, general support and education to participants.
In a three-month period, the five participating homes have diverted more than 80 kilos of food from landfill. The program has also helped bring the community closer together.
"Collective composting was easier than I imagined, and has worked without any major hassles. It's a positive and achievable community activity," says Claire.
For larger residential buildings, composting options are still in their infancy, however the City of Sydney is currently trialling a large-scale composting system in an apartment block in Erskineville, which encourages its residents to come together to reduce their food waste. Hopefully this will become a staple in residential apartment buildings in the future.
Composting is a great way to reduce the amount of food waste you send to landfill. It's also a brilliant way to get free fertiliser for the garden. To get started:
- Find out more about Bokashi Buckets at www.bokashi.com.au
- Visit www.recyclingnearyou.com.au and get in touch with your local council to see what programs they are running.