Tag Archives: Compostable waste products

Blue bins now accepting compostable packaging

Many of you may have wondered how to dispose of the compostable packaging the cafes on campus are now using.

The Sustainability Office has the solution to some of the compostable packaging options at UC!

You already know coffee cups are accepted in the blue bins on campus, well now the blue bins will accept some types of compostable packaging too.

It is important to check the new signage on the bins, to see if your packaging can go in the blue bins.

Remember, although some types of packaging may say it is compostable, they are not all accepted in Christchurch by our commercial composting facility!

A quick and easy way to check, is to see if there is anything that looks like plastic on your packaging (regardless of whether it says compostable or not!). If there is, please empty your food waste into the green organics bin, and place the packaging into the red landfill bin.

Packaging that is not accepted in the blue bins include:

  • noodle boxes
  • cardboard boxes with a clear PLA plastic panel
  • wedge sandwich boxes with a clear PLA plastic panel
  • clear PLA plastic bowls

Remember, everything in the blue bin will be sorted by hand. Please help us by only putting the approved items in these bins, and everything else into organics, landfill or recycling.

Follow the simple guide above to be sure, and help make this a success at UC!

For more information, please contact the Sustainability Office: sustainability@canterbury.ac.nz

Blue Bins and Worm Farms

engs4177_coffee_cup_composting_poster

As Semester Two starts you’ll notice more Blue Bins for take-away cups around campus! These bins are part of our initiative to reduce waste going to landfill. All take-away cups collected in the Blue Bins are taken off-site for composting. This will be Phase II of a trial to test the system and this trial will end in December 2016.

It is extremely important that only cups are placed in these bins. No pie wrappers, or bottles or any other contaminant. While we do sort the cups before we send them away, we need that process to be very fast and efficient in order for our trial to receive funding. Please help us keep this project going by telling your mates about it and not to contaminate the bins!

What happens to the cups in the Blue Bins? These cups are sorted on site to make sure there is no contamination in them. So far contamination is minimal, which is great. Then they are taken out to the Selwyn District Council’s HotRot facility by Rolleston where they are put through a mechanical composting system with other compostable waste products and turned into compost for your garden.

Why can’t we just put them in the green bins? Coffee cups must not go in the green organics bins. The contents of green bins go to a composting plant that cannot process takeaway cups (even if they say they are ‘compostable’). Coffee cups in the blue hooded bins are sent to a different composting facility that is able to compost them.

So why don’t we send all our organics waste to the composter that can do it all? Because of our contractual arrangements with our waste services provider, it is not economically efficient to do this. We are working together to find a solution that will work for everyone.

What about composting them on-site? We have been exploring options to do this for a number of years. We are currently looking into large scale worm composting. Wouldn’t it be marvellous to use the compost in the community gardens, for example? Or use it to grow salad greens and herbs to make student lunches? We think so too. But we need to get a back end system in place first that works (hence our trial), we need more physical space than is currently available (due to remediation works) and we may require some capital (which will not be available for a couple of years).

What difference does it make? We estimate that the UC community produces more than five tonnes of waste from coffee cups alone every year. So in the first instance, that’s five tonnes we can keep out of Kate Valley Landfill. However, the beauty of this initiative is that it means we may be able to shift from using plastic plates, sushi containers, trays, burger clams etc, etc, etc to compostable alternatives, that could then all be put into the Blue Bins. We are setting up a system to help us deal with a much bigger waste issue than many people realise.

So, thank you again for helping us to make this work. It’s a step towards closing our waste loop and leaving the world better than how we found it!

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