Industrial-size worm farm cuts Sydney waste

Xinhua, May 31, 2013

A worm farm trial in a Sydney eatery precinct has halved the total waste of a local restaurant and juice shop, saving on rubbish bills and producing fertiliser, the City of Sydney said Friday.

The Green Living Centre held a six-month trial of the farm using a 1,500 litre skip bin to house the worms at their office in Newtown, Sydney.

Over the six months the farm diverted 462 kilograms, the equivalent of 6,500 hamburgers, of food waste from two local businesses, said Project Manager Mithra Cox.

The 323 litres of organic fertilizer produced by the worms was given away to local residents, and is expected to produce about 40 kilograms of compost.

"The worm farm plays an important role in turning food waste into a valuable organic fertilizer, and diverting waste from landfill," said Cox.

"This trial has shown that large worm farms can handle commercial quantities of food waste and halve the amount of waste going to landfill from restaurants and food outlets," she added.

Boost Juice Newtown owner Raewyn McCardle said the worm farm created a feel-good vibe about recycling.

"As a juice bar, we generate lots of fruit pulp. It felt great that instead of filling up our rubbish bin, our fruit pulp became a valuable resource that was turned into organic fertiliser, " McCardle said.

The composting trial formed part of the city's strategy to reduce waste and methane emissions from landfill, said Sustainability Program Officer Jonathan Boys.

Food waste makes up about a third of household waste, and half of a restaurant waste. The total amount of waste generated by NSW residents and businesses was estimated at 17.1 million tonnes in 2010-11.

A report on the state's household waste found that almost 75 percent of rubbish found in garbage bins should not be going to landfill, with food accounting for 40 percent of bin contents.

In 2007 to 2008, about 2,223,856 tonnes of waste from the commercial and industrial sectors were sent to Sydney landfills. Paper and food accounted for more than half of the average garbage bag, with 303,855 tonnes of food and 177,501 tonnes of paper thrown out.

In response to these figures, a five-year 465.7 million Waste and Resource Recovery Initiative was announced by the NSW government in February 2013 to reduce the state's waste and improve recycling.

The City of Sydney also launched a Zero Waste campaign to reduce the amount of waste going to landfill, and promote waste as a valuable resource that can be used to create new products and even generate energy.

"The city is helping business to implement simple and cost- effective ways to reduce waste from their daily operations and improve waste management," said Boys.

The next stage of the worm farm program will involve establishing trial farms on-site at restaurants and food outlets, said Cox.