New composting machine dramatically reduces landfill

Leura Garage owner James Howarth with the new super composter
Leura Garage owner James Howarth with the new super composter

Leura Garage owner, James Howarth, has always had a green eye on his business, with solar panels, rainwater storage, energy efficient lighting and natural ventilation.

One stumbling block had always been the amount of food waste from the restaurant going to landfill.

In casting around to see what options might be available, Mr Howarth heard about a company called Closed Loop, which supplies composting equipment.

Now, several years after investigating, analysing and applying (successfully) for a grant from the Environmental Protection Authority, Leura Garage now owns a super composter.

It will dramatically reduce the amount of organic waste going to landfill while at the same time creating great fertiliser for gardens.

The machine uses airflow, a heated tank and agitating steel paddles to enhance the composting process and reduce the input waste by up to 90 per cent.

The first scraps are fed to the machine

The first scraps are fed to the machine

Leura Garage will put 120 kilograms of food waste a week into the machine (20 kgs a day for six days, leaving the machine to do its stuff on the seventh day). It will produce compost representing about one-tenth of that volume - 12 kgs.

Mr Howarth is hoping it will mean he reduces his waste each week by at least one 1,100-litre bin.

The benefits of composting were demonstrated at a Leura Harvest Festival two years ago.

"It met with a lot of interest from the local community," Mr Howarth said. "It affirmed my belief that people would be right behind the idea for us to compost as much organic waste as we could."

Mr Howarth inspects the composter

Mr Howarth inspects the composter

Now the machine has arrived, it's "kick off stage" for the restaurant.

The Gazette attended the staff training session which explained the very simple system while emphasising a couple of rules: No large meat bones or oyster shells; and a warning that stray knives or forks amongst the scraps can wreak serious damage to the machine.

Mr Howarth is looking at what to do with the end product. Local gardener and Greens councillor, Kerry Brown, has said she is happy to take some but believes it may have to be mixed with other organic matter, depending on where it is to be used.

Other options may be to get some community farms involved or even council using it as a fertiliser in public parks and gardens.

Leura Garage will be holding a mingle event next month to share information about the system. Business consultant, Luca Postiglione, said: "We want to let more local business know about what we're doing and hopefully get them on board as well."

Mr Howarth added: "We're not going to save a lot of money here but it's about what are we doing for the planet. We've got to change our thinking."