A new Whanganui business aims to keep 200 to 300 tonnes of food waste out of landfill every year - and make people feel good as well.

People want to be sustainable but many feel composting their own food waste is messy, smelly or likely to attract vermin, Derek Pickering said. His and wife Sarah's new business, Easy Earth Ltd, will address that.

"Our basic premise is trying to get material out of landfill," he said.

A trial has already shown people feel good about their food waste being composted.


Easy Earth will collect food waste weekly, at a cost of $6 a week for households and $9 a week for businesses. It will be taken to an in-vessel processing plant at Karoro Rd, where it will be turned into compost within two weeks.

The compost will be sold in bulk for agricultural use.

"I'm fairly confident about a market for this. I've spoken to a number of farmers who are quite interested."

Commercial composting is just the start, Derek Pickering said. Any profit will be invested in research or in other sustainability enterprises - even a possible recycling processing centre.

"I'm not looking to make lots of money but we want it to be commercially viable so we can reinvest into some new sustainability things."

Pickering is the factory manager for Mars Petcare in Castlecliff. He loves the work and intends to stay on fulltime, employing at least two other people to run Easy Earth. One will be project manager Melany Davy.

He'll be the new company's director. He said he has wanted to start a business for some time. He's learned about sustainability from working at Mars, and about composting from his gardening family.

Whanganui District Council has been supportive, and has provided some finance from its waste minimisation budget. Easy Earth has yet to get resource consent, but Pickering doesn't anticipate any problems.


There's a massive need for a composting operation here, he said. Past paunch waste and green waste composting operations have both ended.

Easy Earth will provide customers with bins that have lids and compostable liners. For households the liners and contents will be collected kerbside weekly, by a small truck, or else the liners and contents will be dropped off at a central point for $3.50 and the bin and lid taken home.

Businesses will have whole bins taken, and replaced with another bin.

Households in the scheme should have less rubbish to put out in a bag at the kerb, which could save them money.

 The Hot Rot 1811 compost equipment Easy Earth will use looks like this. Photo / supplied
The Hot Rot 1811 compost equipment Easy Earth will use looks like this. Photo / supplied

The technology Easy Earth will use is new. Pickering is buying a "pre-loved" Hot Rot 1811 composting system from a Christchurch manufacturer for "hundreds of thousands". It's a long metal tube with an auger inside to turn and aerate the food scraps.

A computer will ensure the composting happens in optimum conditions, and vents will let in air. The machine is powered by both electricity and the heat of decomposition and will produce no leachate.

Pickering has leased 2500sq m of land next to the Beach Rd Pumping Station in Whanganui's Karoro Rd for the composting operation. It will need a secure fence, and soon contain a feed hopper, tractor, and storage and office buildings.

He doesn't anticipate any mess or smell from the operation.

"It's something I want to be proud of," he said.

The Hot Rot machine will be able to handle 600 tonnes of food waste a year, and Pickering can buy a second one if needed.

It arrives in February, and he hopes to be signing up customers by March.