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Warwickshire County Council invests in Tidy Planet composters

Recycling expert Tidy Planet has won a contract to provide a new Rocket Composter to Warwickshire County Council for its office complex in Warwick, with the company already having the machines in place at its offices in Shire Hall and in five schools throughout the region.

Tidy Planet first installed a Rocket composter at Shire Hall in 2002 and since this time the machine has diverted over 50 tonnes of food waste from landfill, with food waste from the site’s 1200 staff collected on a daily basis and loaded into the Rocket, which then turns the waste into compost within 14 days.

Due to the success of the machine at Shire Hall, the council asked Tidy Planet to assist with providing a greener solution for the food waste at some of the county’s schools. Following on from a successful tender for Eastern Shires Purchasing Organisation, Tidy Planet was then able to provide waste solutions to any public sector organisation in the country up until 2011, through an innovative "open" tender, this then led to the council purchasing five Rocket Composters for their local "exemplar" schools.

With schools in Warwickshire spending almost £400,000 a year on waste disposal, Warwickshire County Council were keen for the schools to find an alternative method to landfill. Last summer, Avon Valley School and Sports college, Studley High School, Alderman Smith High School, Polesworth International Language College and Kenilworth Sports and High, all implemented the Rocket and with the five sites producing a combined total of 1000kgs of food waste per week, Tidy Planet will be able to divert over 40 tonnes of food waste from landfill per school year, which equates to 600 tonnes of CO2e gases.

Emily Martin, Waste Projects Officer at Warwickshire County Council, says: "We have been using the Rocket Composter for almost eight years now at Shire Hall and the results have been fantastic. The machine is very easy to use, requiring only twenty to thirty minutes of attention a day for sorting the waste for input and logging activity, offering us an environmentally friendly waste disposal method that is both greener and more economical than landfill.

"In 2008 the Waste & Resources Action Programme (WRAP) released a report that highlighted the issue of food waste in schools, but there was no solution offered to the problem. Having seen the results the Rocket had achieved at Shire Hall, we knew that the machine would be able to significantly reduce food waste and were keen to see the machine used in as many Warwickshire schools as possible. Plus, with the quality compost that is produced, the kids are also able to get involved and are now growing their own crops that will be able to be taken back into the schools’ kitchens."

The WRAP report examined the nature and scale of waste produced in 24 schools in England, revealing that food waste accounted for 13% of the total waste in the primary schools and 20% in the secondary schools. With the Rocket being fully compliant with Animal by-Products Regulations, the schools are able to dispose of all waste meat and fish into the machine, with the compost produced then playing a big part in the schools’ allotment projects.

Huw Crampton, Sales Director and project manager for the Warwickshire Schools, says: "The pilot project demonstrated by the council goes someway to highlight what can be achieved, with the potential to divert huge amounts of food waste from landfill. There are over 24,000 schools in the country, which through adoption of composting, potentially offers the ability to divert hundreds of thousands of tonnes of food waste from landfill every year.

"The benefits to this type of project also cover so much more than just saving money. The production of local food on site links into the curriculum and helps the kids understand why they should recycle as they are able to see the benefits of it first hand, which will make recycling at home and future workplaces second nature for them."

Crops grown by the schools include onions, broccoli and potatoes and these are managed by the students and gardening clubs, with the produce then taken into the schools’ kitchens and used in school meals.

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