Published on 30th June 2013
The Luganville Market has become the first market in Vanuatu to start composting organic waste such as fruit and vegetable scraps, thanks to a new large-scale compost bin designed by VSA volunteer Mary O’Reilly.
The bin, which will be used to turn organic waste into compost that can be used to fertilise local gardens, was launched at a ceremony at the market on Tuesday.
The bin, which is six metres long and two metres wide, is a key action in the Sanma Province and Luganville Municipality Waste Management Plan 2013–2016. The composting scheme is the first of many projects being rolled out over the next three years to help reduce waste in the province.
Mary, who has many years’ experience in waste reduction management in New Zealand, has already started teaching the market staff how to make compost using fruit and vegetable scraps, as well as grass clippings from the Municipality gardens.
She says that initially the market mamas will be able to take the finished product home to use on their gardens, but it is hoped that eventually the scheme will create enough compost that it can be sold to the general public.
At present the market generates about 1000 kilograms of organic waste every week, which is currently being sent to the local landfill where it causes water pollution and produces greenhouse gases. Once the composting scheme is properly underway, the bin will produce about 200kg of nutrient-rich compost for each 1000kg of raw waste that goes into it.
“It takes between six weeks and three months to get a good-quality finished product, and it will take some time to get the right mix of organic waste and carbon-rich waste such as newspaper and grass clippings to get the process working at optimum capacity,” says Mary. “It’s like baking a cake – you need to right combination of ingredients and enough time for everything to ‘cook’ or break down before the compost is ready.”
Mary is one of two VSA volunteers working on waste management in Sanma province. She was recently joined by VSA/GHD volunteer Sean Toland, who is carrying out geotechnical investigations into the suitability of a new landfill site to replace Luganville’s existing dump, which dates from World War Two and still has the remains of WWII machinery in it.
Sean will also advise the Luganville Municipal Council and Sanma Provincial Council on how to close, cap and remediate the town’s current dump once a new site is established.