Highland Community Waste Partnership share learning from local composting initiatives

The Highland Community Waste Partnership (HCWP) have visited two Highland composting initiatives to gain insight into what makes a composting initiative work. The intention is to share learning that will support businesses and communities to compost in the Highlands.

HCWP Officers from Highland Good Food Partnership, Lochaber Environmental Group, Thurso Community Development Trust, Transition Black Isle and Velocity Cafe & Bicycle Workshop visited the town of Fort Augustus on 23 May to meet the team behind the Fort Augustus and Glenmoriston Community Company composting site before heading to a business at the forefront of reducing and reusing, The Lovat. The visit was made possible through connections made via Visit Inverness Loch Ness. HCWP also brought along representatives from the community-run Rosemarkie Beach Café to help the business see first hand how composting in hospitality works in practice. 

Fort Augustus and Glenmoriston Community Company is 19 acres of community owned land. A portion of this land is now being used to support residents to dispose of their garden waste. HCWP were shown around the site by Glen Campbell and Ian Leaver. 

The composting site was created to deal with the mountains of organic material the community caretaking team produce from grass cutting, landscaping and general trimming back of trees and shrubbery. There isn't a brown bin collection service in the area, so what started as a way to help the caretaking team, has also benefited the wider community.

The HCWP team then headed over to The Lovat, situated in the heart of Fort Augustus on the shores of Loch Ness. The hotel prides itself on menu seasonality, growing onsite, operating with minimal waste and reusing the food waste they do produce to make their own compost.

Taking a delve into business composting, HCWP caught up with owner Caroline and Maintenance Manager Andy.

Whilst there is very little left on the plates thanks to head chef Sean Kelly’s expert menu, there is still food waste produced, through peelings and other unavoidable waste and that’s where composting comes in.

Purchased in 2008, The Lovat sourced a Rocket in-vessel composter. This piece of kit enables businesses to collect their food waste, drop it into the composter and within a matter of weeks, have peat-free high-grade compost.

Andy was asked him how the process works and if he had any top tips for businesses looking for a way to get more sustainable with their food waste with an in-vessel composter.

Andy said: “It’s been a lot of trial and error to perfect our compost. When we first started using it, there was too much liquid going into the system, this led to some very watery sludge – great for the plants, not so great for our guests as the smell was, well you can imagine.”

“About three bins of food waste are taken out to the machine each day. The vessel is turned once every one to two hours which gives us a great compost mix. A higher temperature and a slower speed seems to work well and that’s been perfected through trial and error. We have about a 50/50 dry to wet mix ratio now after adding wood chips”

Setting up in-vessel composting might sound like a daunting task but the rewards for The Lovat are shown in the compost that helps grow vegetables and flowers across their grounds. It’s paid off in cost savings too, with little reliance on buying in compost. Yet the main driver for The Lovat will always be in creating a sustainable business.

Businesses can learn more about food waste reduction and composting by visiting the HCWP working with businesses webpage.

Community groups can access more information by visiting the HCWP working with communities webpage.

24 May 2023


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