Auckland Council’s Graham Street staff are working towards the council’s goal to reduce the amount of waste going to landfill by 30 per cent – six years ahead of schedule. The organic waste generated by the staff in the building is processed in an installation of hungry bins at the central city site. This simple action has already resulted in a 25 per cent reduction in waste from the site that would otherwise have gone to landfill. The council’s Waste Management and Minimisation Plan has a target to reduce the amount of waste to landfill by 30 per cent by 2018.
“The staff have really got on board,” says sustainability champion and Eco-design advisor, Eion Scott. “We started out with eight hungry bins and pretty soon these were at full capacity, so we had to get more and we are now up to 20.”
The sustainability champions at Graham Street, which houses around 500 staff, have led the initiative by encouraging staff to separate waste and put food scraps, tea bags and coffee grounds in the kitchen tidy bins. They also regularly collect the nutrient-rich worm tea and castings –great compost for the garden. About four litres of worm tea are produced every couple of weeks and each hungry bin produces around 10 litres of prime compost every six months.
“It would be great if we could close the loop and have some vegetable planters at Graham Street to put the compost in – that way we could all graze on some fresh salad greens to go with our sandwiches,” Eion says.
“For us, having the hungry bins at the office gets everyone thinking about how they can contribute to a better environment" says Emma Armitage, Practice and Training Team Administrator. "Every time I check on the worms someone will stop by to ask about how they work, or praise the difference that they make."
"We're reducing the amount of waste we send to landfill, showing the region it's possible to achieve waste minimisation goals with some really simple and effective change. These are great for helping us to walk the talk - we've achieved a 25% drop in landfill waste already."
"Staff have got so involved that we've had to more than double the amount of hungry bins we have!" says Emma.
Hungry bins have been installed in many other council properties across the region including civic buildings, some libraries and community facilities. Business and Facilities Sustainability Project Leader, Andrew Walters says the hungry bins are just one of a suite of initiatives rolled out to help reduce waste, save energy and ultimately save money. These have included desk cubes for rubbish and the three coloured bins system located installed in council offices.
“This is about us walking the talk so to speak and the worm bin experience and the other initiatives have shown that just doing a little thing can make a big difference. The great thing about the hungry bin is that it is a modular system and so we can easily add more capacity if we need to.”