At the beginning of the year, Ben Bell created the largest worm farm operation in the country. 600 000 worms now process 140kgs of food scraps from the Mount Eden Correction Facility (MECF) every day.
As part of MECF’s Zero Waste to Landfill initiative, a recycling sorting area has also been installed, where compostable, recyclable, paper and landfill waste is sorted. A bucket garden and beehives complete the initiative.
MECF uses the by-product from worm castings to fertilise a bucket garden containing 320 planter boxes, where prisoners grow organic herbs and vegetables. These are used by other prisoners working in the kitchen.
Before the worm farm and recycling projects were introduced, MECF was contributing 18 skip bins to Auckland’s landfill each week. After only four days in operation, MECF reduced their waste to landfill to nine bins.
Along with the environmental benefits from this initiative, the commercial savings are just as impressive. Annually, MECF is set to save $90-$110 000 in waste management costs, $14 000 in plate recovery, and $50-60 000 in prisoner clothing recovery.
John Moore, manager of the Zero Waste to Landfill initiative, recognises that for the initiative to reach its full potential, staff and prisoners must understand and support its objectives.
The set-up is so impressive that Fonterra, Counties Manukau DHB and the Hong Kong Institute of Education, amongst others, are lining up to visit MECF to see the operation in action.
The initiative has created interest with staff, prisoners and the community: visitors are welcome at the worm farm, gardens and recycling area, where they are invited to get a better understanding of the processes involved and learn how they can be involved with the initiative.
MECF’s Zero Waste to Landfill initiative was recently honoured as a joint winner in the Minimising our Waste category at the Ministry for the Environment Green Ribbon Awards.
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