A Whanganui eco waste business has expanded its operations into South Taranaki.
Easy Earth business owners Derek and wife Sarah started the company in 2018, with the aim of finding a more eco-friendly and sustainable option than sending food waste to a landfill.
Derek says the company first turned on its machines in 2019. Just 16 months later, the company has stopped 35 tonnes of food waste from ending up in local landfills.
"For the first year, we established the name of our business and talked to different eco waste businesses to see how they ran their operations."
He says the business is a 'passion project'.
"We're giving people the option of being sustainable. It more or less pays for itself now which is great. It's not a money making venture.
"I have a fulltime job at RJ's Licorice in Levin which pays the bills. We wanted to provide a safer alternative than a landfill. It feels like the right thing to do, we have to do something better for the environment."
He says it is a team effort with his wife Sarah also involved.
"My wife is amazing. She does a lot for the business."
Easy Earth uses a HotRot in-vessel composting system.
The team operate a truck that collects customers' food waste and brings it back to their Whanganui District Council leased land.
From there it is loaded into the HotRot and turned into compost within two weeks.
The HotRot turns the waste into compost. The waste is loaded on one end of the machine and goes through a large tube. It is turned into compost and comes out the other side.
"The waste is kept aerated to give the bacteria, which breaks down the waste, the best conditions to thrive in. The HotRot operates every 20 minutes."
To create the compost, he needs the right 'recipe'.
"It needs the right balance of carbon and nitrogen and wood type material. I love how we can combine nature and technology."
Derek is hoping to launch the sale of compost in spring.
"We have to test it and make sure it meets the New Zealand standard for compost."
He says he is also planning to expand his operation by adding a second HotRot machine.
"We've laid down the concrete foundations."
He says Covid-19 had an impact on the business.
"Our commercial customers had to shut their businesses and it was hard for us to get the wood for the compost. We've had to refeed the compost as we couldn't get the right recipe through lockdown."
He says the compost is great byproduct.
"Our aim is to be sustainable, the compost is great as it can add nutrients back to the Earth. We're wanting to be as environmentally conscious as we can.
"This is a better option than landfill. At a landfill, the waste stays still and when it decomposes, it releases greenhouse gases."
Easy Earth collects waste from 50 locations in Whanganui and 10 in South Taranaki with a mix of residential and commercial customers.
"While South Taranaki is a lower number of customers, they are large commercial customers meaning here are large volumes of waste."
Derek says he was contacted by the South Taranaki District Council to see if they were interested in travelling to the region and picking up food waste.
"The council up there approached us and helped us to get set up, and now we do a run to Taranaki twice a week, picking up waste from Hāwera, Waverley and Patea."
The Whanganui and South Taranaki district councils had provided financial support through their waste minimisation funds, Derek says.
"We wouldn't be able to operate how we do without the support."