Finding a small scale solution to Guernsey’s household food waste

January 7th, 2012 by Richard Lord

Food waste and other putrescible material poses a problem when it is landfilled.  When it is covered over it decays in an anaerobic (oxygen-less) environment. This process produces foul smells and methane, which is a potent greenhouse gas.

Food waste is a major component of household waste. At the Mont Cuet landfill it attracts gulls and rats.

When black bags with food waste in them are placed out for collection, gulls and other roaming animals can tear open the bags and spread food waste on the street.

Composting is an aerobic process. When done properly, it doesn’t produce foul smells, it doesn’t produce methane, and it does not attract vermin.

Guernsey’s Public Services Department subsidises composters, which are available at Earlswood Garden Centre for £10.00. These composters look like daleks. They are not rat proof because they are open at the bottom, and they are not really suitable for food waste because the temperature doesn’t get high enough inside these containers to kill pathogens.

Gibson Recycling Depot in British Columbia, Canada posted to Facebook about the Jora Composter, which is designed in Sweden.

Gibson Recycling Depot wrote “we just dumped our third load of composted material out of our JK125 composter. The material is exceptional and it goes directly into our garden.”

They provided a link to a Youtube video and wrote “apartments, condominiums and town house complexes can also compost now. There is no reason we should be throwing any food scraps in our garbage bins any more because it is just so simple to compost.”

The JK 5100 food waste composter featured in the Youtube video below is large enough to cater for residents living in a block of flats or in a small estate.

Jora also produce two home composters, the JK125 and the JK270, which are available from SmartSoil Ltd. in the UK. (VAT is included in the price.)

SmartSoil Ltd also sells the JK400, which has three times the capacity of the JK270, but is still manually turned. Their website states that this composter is suitable for use by guest houses, small restaurants, and other small businesses that produce food waste.

The Jora composters for home use seem to have several advantages. They have two compartments so that new food waste isn’t added to food waste that has almost turned to compost. The containers are well insulated to allow temperatures in the compartment to rise to a temperature that can kill pathogens. They depend on hand turning, so they don’t need electricity to operate. The larger capacity home composter, the Jora 270, is high enough off the ground to allow freshly produced compost to be tipped directly into a wheelbarrow.

Food waste needs to be mixed with sawdust or small pieces of wood waste or shredded newspaper to balance the nitrogen and carbon in the mixture.

I have not used a Jora composter but rats have entered the dalek shaped composter and a tumbler composter I use. The tumbler composter became heavy with rainwater and difficult to turn. Extracting good quality compost from these composters has also been difficult.

The Jora composter may solve these problems. Richard Gomme wrote a favourable review of the JR270 composter in Devon’s Community Recycling Networks newsletter, and the video below shows the composter being used.




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