Wollongong cafe Sandygoodwich is known for its made-from-scratch mentality, with pickles, chutneys and baked goods aplenty produced at its west Crown Street premises.
But in recent weeks owners Yon Miller and Emma Huber have taken their homemade philosophy to a new level, and are now producing their own compost.
Frustrated by the cost of waste disposal and their abundant food scraps which were “just going into the bin doing nothing”, the couple decided to rent a “closed-loop” composter.
The Australian-designed machine, which now sits out the back of the cafe where the garbage bins used to be, uses live microbes and a turning heated chamber to churn through food waste – including vegatable scraps, egg shells and, importantly, coffee grounds – quickly.
“This particular model is able to take 20 kilograms of food waste and within about 36 hours, can turn it in to five kilos of compost or garden conditioner,” Ms Huber said.
Mr Miller said this speed meant the cafe could compost about a day’s worth of food waste overnight, dramatically reducing its environmental footprint.
“It takes up the same amount of space as two wheelie bins, it’s environmentally friendly, it’s just as economical and reduces landfill – plus it gives us a chance to turn our waste into something usable,” Mr Miller said.
It takes up the same amount of space as two wheelie bins, it’s environmentally friendly, it’s just as economical and reduces landfill – plus it gives us a chance to turn our waste into something usable.Yon Miller
“It’s something that we’ve always wanted to do, but haven’t really had the means. You’d need about a dozen normal composters to get the same result.”
The composter produces a “soil conditioner” which can be mixed with soil to nourish gardens.
The couple plans to use some of the compost on their own veggie patch, and hopes to link up to provide compost to community gardens. Bags of the soil conditioner will also be available at the cafe, for a gold coin donation.
“We like to look at a meal not as the end of a cycle, but as part of a cycle, so for the food to then go into the garden to create more food,” Ms Huber said.