Transformation Areas

This story reflects success in the highlighted areas.

Collecting waste with We Compost

Steve Rickerby’s waste collection service, We Compost, collects approximately 45,000 litres of compostable waste each week – diverting thousands of kilos of waste from landfill and reducing carbon emissions at the same time.

Steve Rickerby had the idea for We Compost when he was working at a corporate in the city. His company had just moved to a building that had no way to process waste on site, and there was no organic waste collection service available in Auckland at the time. He saw a market for a waste collection service and decided that he “would most likely be the only person crazy enough to take responsibility to make this happen”.

It was then that the idea for We Compost was born. He started off small: collecting coffee grinds on the back of his ute, while working three other jobs to cover costs. Before long, he had funding from the Ministry for the Environment to purchase a truck and more bins, and now We Compost is completely self-funded – and steadily growing.

Steve now collects approximately 45,000 litres of compostable waste per week, and since January 2012 We Compost has managed to divert over 500,000 kg of waste from landfill, which equates to about 250 tonnes of CO2 equivalent emissions.

Steve hasn’t stopped there. Recently, he has moved to a “lean manufacturing” model for his collection service: rather than collect as much organic waste as possible from as many organisations as possible, We Compost now aims to divert the maximum amount of waste from landfill in the most efficient way possible. It has also reduced the size of its collection area and created a co-mingle recycling collection (We Recycle). This shift in thinking has yielded big successes in terms of both the company’s bottom line and the company’s environmental impact: since making the changes four months ago, collection revenue has doubled while monthly fuel consumption has decreased by 30%.

What next for We Compost? Steve’s keen to increase the impact and efficiency of the business with further applications of the Lean Manufacturing principles. He’s aiming high: looking to be the most efficient resource recovery service in New Zealand.  

We Compost was a finalist in the Restorative Impact category of the 2013 NZI National Sustainable Business Network Awards.