CBEC EcoSolutions Community Compost Connection

Winner of the Te Tohu Matua – Supreme Award and Environmental action in the community award at the 2023 Whakamānawa ā Taiao – Environmental Awards.

Taking action to address climate change can seem like a daunting task for the average person, but with the support of CBEC EcoSolutions’ Community Compost Connection Programme, communities across Te Taitokerau are equipped and empowered to tackle this global issue from within their own homes, schools, community centres, and marae.

At this year’s awards, the Community Compost Connection Programme was named winner of the ‘Te Tohu Matua – Supreme Award’ and the ‘Environmental action in the community’ award. The project also received highly commended in the ‘Environmental action to address climate change’ category.

EcoSolutions Manager Jo Shanks says the team were surprised and overwhelmed to have received the supreme award, which she says is an acknowledgement of the efforts made by many people across the region.

“It’s a fantastic recognition of a very wide range of people and the part they’re playing towards making change, including our fourteen mentors, fifteen hub coordinators, and the many participants that have been on this journey so far.”

The Community Compost Connection Programme, which is funded by the Ministry for the Environment, exemplifies how individuals and communities alike can take action to address climate change and provides the opportunity for them to do so.

The programme centres on educating and supporting communities to compost – an accessible way to combat climate change by reducing the amount of compostable waste that reaches landfill. Composting can help to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (as when compostable waste breaks down in landfill, it produces methane) and it produces nutrient-rich compost that can be put back into soil to enrich its carbon sequestration abilities.

Two woman show the compost bin. (Image Wendy Bown)

Taking action to address climate change. (Image Wendy Bown)

As part of the programme, the team facilitates free waste minimisation education to guide businesses, schools, marae, and community groups on diverting compostable waste from landfill and instead composting it to feed the whenua (land) and grow kai.

The programme also provides community compost hubs to local business, community projects and events to enable them compost. The hubs serve as learning spaces for schools, groups, and individuals while contributing to local community gardens, increasing food production, and strengthening food resilience.

Households are also supported to minimise their waste through free workshops, waste evaluations, subsidised composting systems and eight weeks of guidance from compost mentors. To date, over a thousand people have attended the free workshops, sixteen community compost hubs have been established, employment opportunities have been created, and over 180 tonnes of waste has been diverted from landfill.

The programme goes beyond waste minimisation too, fostering community engagement and promoting shared responsibility. Jo says demystifying waste reduction and making composting fun and engaging is a key element of the programme’s kaupapa (purpose).

“We don’t want to daunt people. We’d rather that everyone feels empowered to do as much good as they can than feel overwhelmed and do nothing. It’s about letting people know that the future isn’t terrifying as long as you keep doing your bit. None of us are going to be the single solution, but we can all be a part of it.”

(Images: Wendy Bown)