Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Hamilton high school hot on composting trail

Hamilton City Council waste minimisation funding has helped solve a Hamilton high school’s food waste problem, while benefitting the students, surrounding community and environment.

A hot composting system installed at Fraser High School is being supported by Council’s Waste Minimisation Fund.

The Waste Minimisation Fund, which is open for applications until Monday 11 April, supports projects which encourage community participation and education and/or benefit the community and lead to action and behaviour change.

The hot composting system was a result of the school’s involvement in the Para Kore (Zero Waste) Oranga Taiao programme. Para Kore was a successful Waste Minimisation Fund applicant in 2017, 2019, 2020 and 2021.

The funding allowed them to employ a facilitator, Paul Murray, to work with Fraser High, who has helped the school with its hot composting system.

“Fraser High has 1500 students, so when the school lunches programme began there, the waste was just phenomenal,” said Mr Murray.

“It wasn’t just the packaging waste, but the uneaten and half-eaten food. So together with the school, we looked at how we could change this.”

After discussions with the school, Mr Murray took the problem to the Para Kore national team, and a kaiārahi from another part of the country suggested the hot composting system. Hot composting systems are typically used in community settings and can deal with large amounts of organic waste, including meat, bread and other waste that cannot go into standard cold composting or worm farms.

“The hot composting system reduces waste to landfill, and also creates other benefits, such as powered-up soil leading to vibrant gardens, nutrient-dense kai, healthy whānau and communities. It also provides learning opportunities in areas such as science. Everyone’s pretty excited about it,” said Mr Murray.

The composting system is also being used by the Western Community Centre, which adjoins the school, and will help the surrounding community grow food. The Western Community Centre is supporting people to plant fruit trees in their own gardens, and is also planting fruit trees on the edges of the school’s playing fields.

“The Waste Minimisation Fund allows you to make your visionary and innovative ideas a reality that serve your community.”

“Para Kore has reached more people because of this funding, and we’ve been able to deliver our Oranga Taiao programme to rōpū around Hamilton City. This has resulted in waste to landfill being reduced, and strengthened our connection with Papatūānuku and Ranginui,” he said.

Para Kore is a Maaori zero waste organisation with a kaupapa based on whakapapa to Papatūānuku and expressed through an experienced and skilled team who are passionate about, and committed to, achieving a zero waste Aotearoa. Fraser High is the first high school in New Zealand to join their programme. For more information visit www.parakore.maori.nz

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