Otago Farmers Market

Waste Minimization - 21st Oct 2011

Undertaking a waste audit. In August 2010 the Otago Farmers Market Trust made a commitment to reduce the amount of waste generated during the market. This involved the creation of Dunedin’s first public spaces recycling scheme. As a new initiative recycling at the Otago Farmers Market has not been without its difficulties. After auditing all of our waste streams, we found that one of the key issues that we have had to deal with is the amount of organic waste at the market.

Organic waste is the food scraps, cardboard packaging, coffee cups, paper bags and compostable waste at the market. Normal recycling systems don’t collect this waste and as a result it all gets sent to landfill. Organic waste is the largest part of the markets waste stream and the Trust felt that if we were really committed to reducing the environmental impact of the market then we needed to find a suitable solution to this problem.

Thankfully we have managed to team up Healthy Soils who are putting our organic waste into their worm farm. The problem is that there are some things that worms won’t eat, meat and coffee cup lids are two of main contaminants that we deal with at the market each week. The organic bins have a small bucket next to them for coffee cup lids so if people separate them when they dispose of their lids, meat and bones need to go into the rubbish bin. We recognize that it can be confusing and while people do try to dispose of their waste correctly they sometimes get it wrong. This is why our site assistant Mapu regular sorts the rubbish during the market.

Without Mapu’s vigilance the contamination would be too high and the system would not work. Sure it is not as glamorous as saving whales, but Mapu is doing his bit for the environment one coffee cup lid at a time.

The system wouldn’t work without the support of vendors in particular the Coffee Musketeers, Classic Café, Touch of Dutch (Bacon Butties) and Jia He Asian food who have all changed their packaging to make it tastier for worms. However the real leaders here are the Hickmans from the Joyful Vegan who if asked will give you a proper bowl, plate and knife and fork, then they wash it and bring it back next week. Not only does it reduce the waste but many people find that soup tastes better out of a bowl.

When you are at the market take the time to figure out what bin to put your rubbish in and if you have any questions, just ask at the site office

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