Lismore City Council is getting its hands dirty in the hope of making money out of putrescent foodstuffs.
The idea is to turn household waste into organic compost that it can sell at a profit.
And the council is so keen on the plan that it’s spending more than half a million dollars on the project.
It has received $350,000 from the NSW government and will match the funds to upgrade and expand the existing organics processing facility at the Lismore Recycling & Recovery Centre.
The new facility will be able to process an additional 4600 tonnes of food and garden waste per annum, bringing the total to 14,600 tonnes.
Not having enough rotting rubbish to hand within its own LGA boundaries, Lismore is going to take deliveries from Byron and Richmond Valley shire councils as well as expanding its kerbside organics services to 1500 residents in rural villages.
A new technology to process the organics will be introduced. Developed in Germany, it is called a Mobile Aerated Floor (MAF) and aerates the compost through a system of pipes underneath the compost piles, reducing the need to turn them. The MAF will halve the existing 16-20 week composting process and reduce fuel costs as well as enable more organics to be processed for sale. Other benefits of the new technology include reduced electricity and water usage.
Council’s Waster Operations Coordinator Kevin Trustum said the upgrade and expansion will allow it to take advantage of the growing market for its compost and mulch products.
‘Council has been selling a good quantity of compost and mulch for many years to backyard gardeners and farmers, but since gaining organic certification from Australian Organic in November last year, the demand has increased,’ Kevin explained.
‘The certification has enabled farmers and producers across the Northern Rivers to use the compost and mulch for certified organic agriculture. The expansion will allow this market to grow further, which is quite exciting.’
Council is also hoping to install a new bagging unit to better meet the needs of urban backyard gardeners. Bagging will allow Council to sell small bags of compost to the many local residents who visit the Lismore Recycling & Recovery Centre but don’t have a trailer or want large quantities.
‘We have closed the loop entirely on the local organics system with all food and garden waste collected in the Lismore Local Government Area going back into our farms and gardens,’ Kevin said.
‘We are absolutely leading the field in recycling and organics processing at the moment and we hope to be an example of best practice that other councils in Australia look to and model themselves on. We feel we are really achieving our community’s vision of Lismore being a model of sustainability.’
The upgrade and expansion is expected to be complete within the next 12 months