Over the past year we’ve been working with the City of Hobart to deliver The Home Composting Project. This was a multi-layered, creative education campaign that supported people to compost their food waste at home instead of sending it to landfill where it releases harmful methane gases into the atmosphere.
There were three layers to this project:
- The first was focused on “passive education” that happened through installing large-scale public artwork in the city educating people how to compost.
- The second layer was all about “active education” which took place through hosting two free home-composting workshops in Hobart.
- The third layer was advising the City of Hobart in updating their website to include information on how to compost food waste at home.
Current figures indicate that up to 47% of Hobart kerbside bins are pure food waste – this is both a big environmental and economic problem and a big opportunity. Environmentally, the main problem is that once food waste is buried in the ground it becomes anaerobic, eventually releasing harmful methane gases into the atmosphere.
“Methane is a potent greenhouse gas 28 to 36 times more effective than CO2 at trapping heat in the atmosphere over a 100-year period.”
Hello climate change and a plethora of social, environmental and economic challenges. We think it’s best to avoid this at all costs, hence turning the problem (food waste) into the solution (healthy compost to return to the soil).
To do this we worked with a group of households to (a) teach them how to compost, and (b) record how much they composted over one month to determine its effectiveness in keeping food waste out of landfill. They each received identical “compost kits” that made accurate data collection possible.
The outcomes for this brief, but effective project Include:
While the outcomes you can see above might appear modest, the power of this model is that it’s easy and affordable TO SCALE UP to be a highly effective approach to help keep food waste out of landfill.
Cost projections show that by investing in an educational program that’s free for the public to access, you could potentially divert hundreds (and eventually thousands) of tonnes of food waste from landfill per year and save tens (and eventually hundreds) of thousands of dollars by reducing processing fees.
A second layer to the project
Involved collaborating with local artist, Rachel Tribout, to create three large compost billboards that were displayed in central Hobart for 3 months. They were educational, beautiful and big – with the largest one measuring 7.8m x 2.3m.
A very happy me with the smallest of the 3 billboards
The third & final layer to this project
Was focused on working with the City of Hobart to update their website to include some educational information, supporting people to compost at home. This involved making easy-to-download flyers from the billboards and making them permanently available to the public as you can see below.
The City of Hobart are now exploring the feasibility of having a kerbside collection service specifically for food waste to further decrease the percentage of it ending up in landfill. However as outlined in their Waste Management Strategy, this wouldn’t mean support for home composting disappears – rather it would be one of a range of approaches. We’re fans of not putting all your eggs in one basket so support this approach to turning this current pollution into a soil-loving solution.
- Did you know: The City of Hobart have a unique and quality composting facility where they currently compost green waste that the public give them. Once composted this is then sold back to the community and while not certified organic (the inputs are too variable), it’s currently the best quality compost we’re aware of commercially available.
- Thanks to the City of Hobart for funding this project – we loved it.
Some references & resources
-  www.hobartcity.com.au/Council/Strategies-and-plans/City-of-Hobart-Waste-Management-Strategy-2015-2030
-  Food waste in kilograms x 1.6 = Co2 emissions if sent to landfill (National Greenhouse Accounts, July 2012)
- The Food Know How Program
- The Compost Revolution
- Love Food Hate Waste