Turn­ing scraps into cur­rency

Auckland City Harbour News - - NEWS - By ROSE CAW­LEY

Food scraps have 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.

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 says.

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 says.

‘‘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.’’

He says 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 says giv­ing waste a value is an en­gag­ing way to re­in­force what the com­pany stands for.

‘‘Peo­ple have be­come com­pla­cent and we need to reengi­neer peo­ple’s think­ing about how to sep­a­rate waste streams.’’

‘‘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 says 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 says 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 says. ‘‘It is get­ting that into a main­stream au­di­ence where it is re­ally nor­mal for ev­ery­one to do.’’


The Mt Eden res­i­dent says 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 says.

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 says 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’’.

Cap­tain planet: Steve Rickerby is on a mis­sion to get Auck­lan­ders think­ing about how they dis­pose of their food waste.

Easy as: An ex­am­ple of the bag which peo­ple need to fill with com­post.

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

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.

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