Worm farms and compost bins to help slash waste by half
  • Thursday 25 June 2009

They’re tiny, wriggly, have the potential to divert around 50 per cent of waste from going into landfill and could be the cornerstone of a sustainable waste strategy for the entire Sunshine Coast!

Worm farming and composting are key areas of investigation for council’s Regional Waste Strategy Taskforce, a mix of industry and council representatives, local experts and community recyclers charged with the task of researching and making recommendations for a new Sunshine Coast waste management strategy.

Taskforce Chair and portfolio councillor, Cr Keryn Jones, said the Taskforce were looking for opportunities to keep organic materials – such as food scraps, cardboards, paper and garden waste – out of landfill, and on-site worm farming and composting systems could be one of the solutions.

“Around two thirds of Council’s greenhouse gas emissions come from organic waste breaking down in landfill to produce methane – a very potent greenhouse gas,” Cr Jones said.

“Capturing that gas for green energy is something Council is exploring, however this is a very costly exercise. A more environmentally friendly and cost effective solution for residents is to prevent organic waste from entering landfill in the first place by recycling it at home, school or even at the office.”

Worms Downunder Director and Waste Strategy Taskforce Member, Dr Pene Mitchell said organic waste makes up around 50 per cent of waste in landfill and worm farms were an easy and cost effective way for anyone to recycle organic material.

“Whether it’s a simple home worm farm or a large scale commercial system capable of processing hundred of kilos of waste every day, worm farming is an ideal environmental solution that will help fight the impacts of climate change,” Dr Mitchell said.

“Not only does recycling organic materials keep them out of the waste stream, reducing greenhouse gases and our reliance on landfill, the end result of worm farming is a nutrient-rich resource that can be used as fertiliser to improve our soils, reduces the need to use water and chemicals in the garden and encourages sustainable farming and green jobs,” she said.

Worms Downunder design and manufacture affordable worm farm systems for domestic and commercial use that have been utilised by a variety of businesses locally and across Australia including farmers, recreation clubs, offices, schools, universities, dog kennels and restaurants.

Dr Mitchell said Worms Downunder were currently working with the Hyatt Regency Coolum who, through their Hyatt Earth project, has made a commitment to sustainably process all their organic waste on-site using the modular Worm Habitat Grande system.

Director of Recreation and coordinator of the Hyatt Earth initiative Mr Brett Braithwaite said the Hyatt team were working towards recycling all the organic waste that is produced from their six kitchens as well as all the green waste produced from maintenance of the golf course and gardens.

“Working with Worms Downunder, we have realised the potential of processing our organic waste on-site and plan to maintain our golf course using the natural, safe, chemical-free products created from the waste, thereby reducing the use of fertilisers,” Mr Braithwaite said.

“By recycling our organic waste, the amount of rubbish the Hyatt sends to landfill is dramatically reduced, which is a great cost benefit for us and is a contribution to the sustainability of the Sunshine Coast,” he said.

Cr Jones said it was great to see local businesses such as the Hyatt, setting good environmental examples and implementing the very outcomes the Taskforce hope to see achieved region-wide.

“Everyone can do their bit for climate change and waste management and a region wide approach is vital if we are to fulfil our vision of becoming Australia’s most sustainable region,” Cr Jones said.

“The Taskforce want to see an increase in diversion of organics from landfill and a very important contributor in achieving this is educating the community on the effects of organics breaking down in landfill and supporting home and business composters and worm farmers with the right advice and right systems.”

To learn more about the Regional Waste Strategy Taskforce or for more great recycling and waste reduction tips, visit Council’s website: www.sunshinecoast.qld.gov.au