One of Australia's largest producers of sweet potatoes, sugar cane and peanuts is helping reduce the number of single-use coffee cups ending up in landfill.
In partnership with EndUp Pty Ltd, Greensill Farming is turning compostable coffee cups into compost through its subsidiary, Green Solutions Wide Bay.
Endup director Taylor McMahon estimates 200,000 cups in one year alone were saved from ending up in land fill through the collaboration.
Green Solutions Wide Bay general manager Nathan Freeman said the company first partnered with local business EndUp Cups in 2021 when their green waste facility officially opened.
He said the compost required by Greensill Farming's year-round sweet potato crop necessitated a dedicated facility that would support both the business and community in a quest for sustainability.
"While supplying compost for Greensill Farming was the primary focus of the Green Solutions business, supporting and engaging with the local community was also a driving force," he said.
"Our free green waste disposal service is valuable to the community, as is offering good quality compost and mulch products for purchase," he said.
"We have courtesy trailers available for local residents to use for both green waste and compost and mulch purchases.
Mr Freeman said EndUp Cups introduced their compostable coffee cup recycling system to the Bundaberg region as a sustainable way of enjoying a cup of coffee while helping the environment.
"EndUp Cups are used by local cafes and then collected in special recycling bins located at each participating café. The used cups are screened and brought to our Green Solutions Wide Bay facility for composting," he said.
"Compostable packaging doesn't actually break down unless it goes into a commercial composting facility. EndUp Cups manufacture their compostable coffee cups using a bio-film that is 100 per cent compostable through our Green Solutions Wide Bay facility."
Mr Freeman said Green Solutions will have produced more than 27,000 tonnes of finished compost and mulch by the end of 2023 which would all be returned to local farms, as well as the wider environment across south east Queensland and as far north as Gladstone.
"The success of Green Solutions is in part due to the facility's innovative approach to turning green waste into compost, but also as a result of the overwhelming support from residents, contractors and businesses who make use of the free green waste disposal service," he said.
"By diverting green waste from landfill, Green Solutions is helping to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and create a valuable resource for the community."
Mr McMahon said they had their own coffee shop in Bundaberg, Espresso Loco, where they offered customers a 25 per cent discount for every coffee cup they returned to the store.
"That's how we got our message out. We found it fell on deaf ears talking to a lot of business owners because they couldn't understand the concept of getting a dirty cup back so we decided to open a shop to promote it and show proof of concept - and that's been going for about two years now," he said.
"Since we've done that we've found the response to be 10 times better with more and more interest growing every day."
Mr McMahon said about 200,000 cups were kept out of landfill after one year which was not bad for a small regional business.
"And it's much better for our local community rather than using synthetic fertilisers and throwing cups in the bin," he said.
Mr Freeman said the company had also established its own Sustainable Schools initiative to engage with local schools and students to inspire the next generation of green waste recyclers.
"The program is not just about teaching good waste management practices, but is designed to provide students an appreciation of the circular process of food production," he said.
"We donate compost to participating schools which they can use for their veggie patches and gardens and we arrange site visits to Green Solutions where students get a full tour and learn the whole process of turning green waste into compost - tailored to any year level from Prep to Year 12.
"We hope to educate as many as we can to develop an understanding of how healthy soils create healthy plants, crops, and ultimately healthier humans."
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