The Wirral communities turning food waste into compost

A local social enterprise is helping communities in Wirral to close the loop when it comes to disposing of food waste.

The team at Compost Works now have four community compost sites in Wirral that allow residents to dispose of their food waste in one of three bins which, when at capacity, can turn around three tonnes of waste food into compost for use in their area – including to help grow more food.

But that isn’t all – by running community workshops and education sessions about composting and recruiting local volunteers to help look after the compost sites, Compost Works are committed to ensuring that people can have few excuses for not recycling food in the same way as they recycle other things.

Minna Alanko-Falola is Chief Executive at Compost Works, which has operated right across the Liverpool City Region since 2019, and she says the basic premise for the social enterprise is leftover food should never be seen as “rubbish”.

Minna Alanko-Falola, Chief Executive, Compost Works says, “Up to 39% of household waste in Wirral is food, according to the latest statistics from Merseyside Recycling and Waste Authority. Most of the food we throw away – almost three quarters of it – is so-called avoidable waste.

“This means it is still perfectly edible. We can therefore all reduce waste and save money by only buying what we will eat. 

“Compost Works promotes food waste composting across Liverpool City Region by running various training and educational sessions on composting, and through setting up community composting facilities. Community composting is a great option for people who don’t have the outdoor space or confidence to compost at home.” 

The four community compost sites currently operating in Wirral are at Make Hamilton, St James Church, New Brighton, Christ Church in Higher Bebington, and in Woodchurch. A fifth site off Conway Street in Birkenhead is in the process of being set up. 

The sites at St James Church and Christ Church were set up a year ago using council grant-funding, which provided a package of support for an initial 12 months.

Now, thanks to the support of Compost Works, the churches – with the support of local volunteers – are on board to keep running the community compost sites themselves. There is still an opportunity for more residents to volunteer at any of the four sites, though.

The compost sites, when at full capacity, can divert around three tonnes of food waste from incineration every year. Using the community composters is a practical way for households to reduce their impact on the waste stream. 

The compost produced can be used in residents’ gardens, church grounds and on community growing projects, which creates a circular economy where local food waste is converted into compost and then used to grow more food and feed local soils. Minna Alanko-Falola – Chief Executive, Compost Works

Food is COOL Wirral’s climate challenge theme for January and February, followed by waste in March and April.

For more information about community composting, or to start using the composts at Make Hamilton, New Brighton, Higher Bebington, or Birkenhead, email info@compostworks.co.uk

Image: Volunteers using one of the community composters

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