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Worm Composting On A Grand Scale

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Millions of worms are set to be put to work in the Bay of Plenty with the announcement of funding approval yesterday (SUBS: WEDNESDAY 13 OCTOBER) for a large-scale composting project.

Bay of Plenty Regional Council in partnership with ZESPRI kiwifruit growers, Norske Skog Tasman Mill operators and Whakatane District Council has been awarded funding from the Ministry for the Environment's Waste Minimisation Fund. The $100,000 from the fund will support a large vermicomposting (worm farming) trial project in the eastern Bay of Plenty.

The Minister for the Environment, the Hon Dr Nick Smith, made the announcement during his opening address yesterday at the annual WasteMINZ Waste Management conference held in Auckland.

Bay of Plenty Regional Council Pollution Prevention Manager Bruce Gardner said the project will trial vermicomposting of organic waste from industrial, urban and food sources on a larger scale than has ever been trialled before in New Zealand.

"The overall purpose of this project is to test how successfully worm farming can turn organic waste into a good soil compost product. If this can be achieved on a large scale it could mean a significant reduction of waste going to landfills," Mr Gardner said.

The new worm composting farm will be located in Kawerau, next to the Tasman Mill where nearly 100,000 tonnes of wood waste is produced.

"Having the site location right next to the Tasman Mill is ideal, as it creates an opportunity for the mill to make a real difference to their waste management. We are really fortunate to have the support from Norske Skog Tasman, ZESPRI and Whakatane District Council, showing their commitment to long-term sustainable initiatives," Mr Gardner said.

During the trial, a proportion of the final product (around 500 tonnes) will be provided to ZESPRI for use on local kiwifruit orchards.

"ZESPRI have made a significant investment into this project and have some innovative ideas to minimise their waste. We are thrilled to be supplying ZESPRI with our final product and seeing it put back into the production process," Mr Gardner said.

The vermicomposting trial site will be managed by EcoCast Ltd. The trial will confirm whether this processing technology can accommodate the variety of waste types, and produce a high quality end product that can be marketed successfully.

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