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City Rolls Out Phase Two of Home Composting Study

Imagine a Cape Town where households practice composting of organic waste either at home or via community composting centers and food gardens? It could become a reality depending on the success of the pilot project currently being conducted by the City of Cape Town.

Of the approximately 1.6 million tons of waste sent to Cape Town’s landfills each year, an estimated 11% consists of compostable organic waste. This is equivalent to an estimated average 21kg per household per month of organic waste.

The City of Cape Town’s Department of Residential Utility Services is running a Home Composting Research Project, to determine whether to roll out home composting on a large scale across the city. For those unable to participate in home composting, the City is hoping to investigate alternatives, such as community-based composting programmes.

The project has moved to Phase Two which saw the delivery of 700 home composting containers to households in four areas: Scottsville, Bongweni (Khayelitsha), Edgemead, and Heathfield, selected for their representation of different demographics. The households were selected based on their interest in the benefits of composting and willingness to provide the City with monthly feedback and data on the progress of composting efforts.

Each participating household has been provided with information on how to use the containers, and the City appointed contractor is available to provide guidance if required.

Participants from Bongweni were given the opportunity to attend workshops that coached them on gardening and food garden cultivation and maintenance and optimising the benefits of composting.

The participants are encouraged to use the compost to enrich soil. During Phase 1, they were eager to use their home composting containers, and also to harvest the compost as soon as possible. In some cases, they enlisted their neighbours to become involved in the project, or focused the composting at nearby community garden projects, some of which housed soup kitchens which produced a lot of organic kitchen waste.  In addition community gardens, where there was a demand for the compost.

During the Phase 1 reporting period, over 1000kg of organic kitchen waste and 250kg of garden waste was recorded composted by 20 households.  This figure is an underestimate of the actual kilograms composted to date.  All  participants have continued to use their composting containers after the project reporting period, so are continuing to divert organic waste from landfills.

Most excitingly, the participants’ enthusiasm has triggered the collection of organic waste for composting, as well as the use of compost by a number of community food garden projects. This project has the potential to provide real benefit in a city where so many people live on small or no incomes.