Community bands together to tackle waste

Michelle Twyford set up composting bins for the community to use. Picture: Lilli Stevens

By LILLI STEVENS

Inner city residents struggling with space have come together to find a solution to the lack of local community composting bins and worm farms.  

Kensington resident Michelle Twyford first set up the bins about 18 months ago on the nature strip outside her home for others to use.

She now has 10 bins and a couple of volunteers around Kensington, and Melbourne City Council is planning on taking the trial even further.

“I can’t believe I’ve got that many volunteers,” she said.

The project began when a local resident complained that she had nowhere to compost her food scraps.

“I had a two worm farms that people had donated to me so I set up the first worm farm,” Ms Twyford said.

“When that got full I set up the second. Then it just sort of grew from there.”

“We never have to worry about where it (the compost) goes. I put it on my garden and it goes to the Kensington station to grow the garden.”

Ms Twyford said she and her volunteers supplied a great solution for people living in small dwellings and apartments in or near the CBD. It’s a figure that according to a City of Melbourne report is rapidly rising.

Despite this, Mrs Twyford said this was “a Band-Aid solution” that the City of Melbourne, which covers Kensington, needed to support.  

MCC waste management coordinator  Melanie Oke said the council was starting up a composting hub at Kensington Town Hall. 

“Based on this community effort we’ve seen that we need to try and do something,” Ms Oke said.

“Organic waste is a large proportion of the waste stream and in metropolitan Melbourne is at about 50 per cent of the total waste stream. Reducing how much of that waste goes to landfill is important,” Ms Oke said.

Ms Oke’s statement was backed by a 2011 study by EC sustainable which found about 50 per cent of the rubbish Australians put in the garbage was compostable.

Ms Twyford said that the initiative could be effective but would need dedicated volunteers.

“I don’t mind helping out, but I don’t want to run it.”

Ms Oke said that finding someone to manage and monitor the composts was the main barrier to setting them up.

“It’s difficult to run. Someone would have to be there to run it and harvest the material and everything.”

In the past, Ms Oke said, the council had trialled community composts in areas such as the Docklands but they disintegrated for this exact reason.   

“If this model works, hopefully we can do it elsewhere as well.”

Ms Twyford said the composts were “a great community thing” and also effective in educating the community about ethical waste management.

“People are thinking about this a bit more now that the bins are there. At the end, everyone’s gardens are better.”