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Giant composter on the move

14 August 2012

The largest mechanical part of our biosolid composter is on the move from Tairua to Whitianga this week.

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It's the final step towards the completion of a large-scale, purpose built compost facility on Moewai Road, beside the Wastewater Treatment plant.

Our district is among the very few in the country mixing biosolids with green waste and turning it into Grade Aa compost.

"This is an innovative and sustainable outcome of creating a beneficial product from human waste," says TCDC Project Manager Rob Paterson. "This waste would otherwise be disposed of in landfill at an on-going cost to the ratepayer and the environment."

The retail grade compost will be used on our parks and reserves with the long-term plan that it's sold to people who can use it to fertilise their gardens, orchards or nurseries.

A rigorous trial was carried out over six months at the Tairua Refuse Transfer Station in which the council followed strict conditions and underwent independent testing and monitoring by the Waikato Regional Council.

Included as part of this process was the establishment of strictly controlled field site trials in which the compost was spread and monitored in the open environment.

The trial proved the compost was safe and of a Grade Aa quality which means it is like any other compost available from retailers. As with the use of all compost products widely available for use by gardeners, caution must always be taken when handling compost.

The composting facility opens up even more opportunities to reuse some of the waste we generate on the Peninsula and reduce the amount disposed of in landfill.

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Power will be out between Tairua and Whitianga on Tuesday from midnight until about 4am on Wednesday, as the 6m high x 12m long x 4m wide machine is transported by road on a hydraulic trailer to its final destination ."It's exactly the same process as moving a house,' explains Mr Paterson. "We have to take all the same precautions so we'll be using pilot vehicles to warn motorists and also cutting the power along the route. It's all for safety." 

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Once the machine arrives in Whitianga it will be connected to the other parts of the composter already on site. It's expected to be fully operational by the end of September.. A full-time manager has also been employed to oversee operations. 

Thames-Coromandel residents produce around 1,673 tonnes a year of biosolids and wastewater treatment plant screenings which are sent to landfill at Tirohia, contributing to the 18,029 tonnes per year of total waste to landfill.


Download high-resolution versions of the pictures

 

Composter machine

On the move 1

On the move 2


Frequently Asked Questions.

What is Biosolids?

Biosolids is the nutrient-rich organic materials resulting from the treatment of domestic wastewater in a specialized treatment facility

What is Green Waste?

Green Waste is biodegradable waste that can be composed from tree or plant matter. Green waste can also be domestic and commercial food waste. At this stage our Biosolid composter will only be taking garden green waste, not food scraps.

Why is it a good thing to combine the two?

The alternative to creating compost from biosolids at our composting unit would be to transport the material to landfill, where methane gases and C02 is released.

Field Utilities Rep Evan Vaughters explains that the heating process not only retains the carbon inside the compost - making it carbon rich - but has been found to have much wider benefits in combatting global warming.

"Once you put that into the ground, our backyards effectively become carbon sinks, since it has been shown to help extract carbon from the atmosphere."