Lochaber business delighted to receive in-vessel composter to help tackle food waste.

As part of the Highland Community Waste Partnership (HCWP), Lochaber Environmental Group (LEG) recently offered to provide an in-vessel composter, called the Rocket A700, available free of charge for an initial period of 3 years extendable to 5 years to a business located in Lochaber. In exchange, LEG will request information on its performance and the chance to share the experience with others who might be interested in this technology as part of the new In-Vessel Composter Network.

Funding from the Highland Community Waste Partnership was made available to support the transportation and initial re-installation charges and training for the Rocket.

Businesses were invited to fill in an application and Ardtornish Estate were successful in becoming the new recipients of the Rocket having heard about it via the Lochaber Chamber of Commerce.

HCWP Project Officer, Lesley Hawkins, from LEG, has been facilitating the installation of the Rocket and caught up with the estate's Kitchen Gardener John Turner and Retail and Gardens Manager Kenny McLaughlin to find out why they were interested in the Rocket, what they planned to compost and how they would use the compost.

John and Kenny explained that the Estate is already beginning the process of implementing a composting system, and wanted to include food waste. Utilising the Rocket seemed like the ideal opportunity to enable them to proceed and expand on their vision. The estate kitchen gardens are in the process of being reinstated with the aim of producing locally grown produce for the wider estate, with surpluses being made available for purchase. Currently the estate is having to purchase compost so having home produced compost will reduce reliance and cost of transporting externally produced compost.

They have recently started producing “ready meals” to order for the self-catering accommodation and to purchase from their farm shop, following requests and feedback from return guests. This new venture is in the process of being refined to include seasonal offerings and the Rocket will help to make use of any related production waste.

The Rocket will also help to compost kitchen and food waste alongside any damaged materials from the kitchen gardens. It is likely staff will start with composting non-meat produce until they are fully conversant with the workings of the Rocket and associated legislation. It is hoped that meat can be added as the project progresses.

The compost will be matured in a series of holding bays, and then used to amend and build the soil structure and fertility of the kitchen gardens.

Lesley said, "Lochaber Environmental Group had a number of excellent applications and making the final decision was extremely difficult.  All of the applicants are deserving of such a machine. We look forward to seeing how Ardtornish Estate progress with their new Rocket composter".

There is anecdotal evidence that a number of in-vessel composters have been installed across the Highlands, but not all are currently in operation. An online note of interest has been produced to identify different businesses and organisations who are currently using an in-vessel composter, have previously used an in-vessel composter, or would like to use an in-vessel composter to reduce the environmental impact of their food waste and potentially utilise any in-vessel composters no longer in operation. It also aims to identify which businesses and organisations would be interested in being part of a Highland wide network. The note of interest will be available until 15th October 2023 and can be accessed here

For any other information please contact Lesley: lesley@lochaberenviro.org.uk

20 September 2023


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