Para Kai food waste trial successful despite Welly wind

by | Apr 28, 2022 | News

The average Wellington household disposes of 3.2kg of food waste per week  adding up to 30,000 tonnes of food waste going to landfill per year, or the same weight as 62 jumbo jets. 

The food waste trial Para Kai was launched by Wellington City Council on the Miramar Peninsula in September 2020 with 500 households trialling a weekly kerbside food waste collection service and another 450 households composting their food waste in either a compost bin, worm farm, or bokashi system.

Senior Waste Planner Stephanie Steadman says the trial aimed to help Council understand how much food waste can be stopped from going to landfill, and the best methods for doing this. “It has also given us insight into what people thought were the good, and the not so good, parts of the experience. One important lesson is that we’ll need to consider how we can provide food waste bins robust enough to survive the onslaught of Wellington’s wind!”

The Miramar Peninsula was chosen for the study as it has a diverse range of established communities representative of Wellington’s demographics, socioeconomics, and topography in a relatively small, easily defined area.

“We gathered information through a rubbish audit of participating households before the trial began, and again during the trial to provide a comparison. We also conducted two surveys to understand participant’s perceptions of the success of the trial and a willingness to pay for a food waste collection service going forward”, says Steadman.

The rubbish audit indicated that kerbside collection is the most effective method, with an average reduction in food waste going to landfill of 38.8 percent per household. Home composting participants showed an average reduction of 16.4 percent per household, with the compost bin being the most effective method.

The survey highlighted participants thought the trial was a good idea, with at least four in five respondents indicating they would continue to use the system if the trial continued.

The trial also highlighted some issues to consider for the future as some participants had concerns around smells and attracting rodents, while others felt clearer information was needed to help them select the best system for their household.

Waste Strategy Manager Emma Richardson says the trial findings will inform the Council’s next steps in tackling food waste disposal issues, and will help with modelling for future initiatives.

Steadman says, “We’ve committed to reduce the amount of waste going to the Southern Landfill by a third by 2026 and finding a solution for food waste will be a key part of this. We are currently undertaking a review of our kerbside services, which will help us to identify future waste servicing options which will reduce commercial and household waste in Wellington City.

“The Ministry for the Environment has indicated that food waste collection is likely to be mandatory before 2030. Later this year we’ll start a feasibility study into a community resource recovery facility, which will include organics processing. The Para Kai trial was possible because it was small-scale, but we’ll need to establish an organics processing plant in the region before we can roll out food waste collections citywide.”

See here for more about the Para Kai – Miramar Trial email, or email: food.waste@wcc.govt.nz

Photo credit: Unsplash

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