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EIT Wins Award for Waste Saving Initiatives

November 16, 2008

EIT Hawke’s Bay’s already lush landscapes are growing greener as staff, suppliers, contractors and students pull together to support a culture of sustainability.

EIT’s commitment to a zero green waste goal was recognised yesterday (Friday, 17 October) with the institute winning the cleaner production category in this year’s Hawke’s Bay Environmental Awards.

Judges in the competition, coordinated by the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council, the Napier City Council and the Hastings District Council, were impressed by EIT’s clear environmental focus which, they said, set an example for other large organisations.

“The path towards sustainability is gaining momentum, moving from the campus and out to the wider community,” says Jo Blakeley, academic and student services director and Chair of theSustainability@EIT group.

Over the last two years, this enthusiastic group – established by EIT as interdepartmental and representative of staff and management, the cleaning and cafeteria contractor and students – has reduced waste going to landfill with initiatives that redirect food waste generated on campus into various composting systems.

“We are thrilled that zero green waste leaves EIT.”

The waste minimisation strategy got underway with the on-site design and construction of a large green waste composting facility for the Taradale campus.  Every year, this facility diverts 10 tonnes of green waste that would otherwise be burnt on site or trucked to the nearby Omarunui landfill.

A tractor-load of compost can be bought for $10, and the mulch generated at the composting area also maintains the well-landscaped 11ha site.  As a result, EIT’s garden beds need fewer chemical weed control measures.

Students and staff sort their food scraps, other recyclables and waste into multi-compartmented bins specially designed on site.  The food wastes are processed in custom-designed commercial scale Bokashi bins to produce compost and a by-product of ‘Boost Juice’, an enriched compost material that is bottled and sold to staff and students for a minimal price.

Even cups made of cornmeal, used in the on campus cafes and Scholars Restaurant, can be composted.

Worm farming is also underway, transforming food waste from the student restaurant and hospitality training suite into vermi-compost.

One department’s waste can prove to be another’s valued resource, says Mrs Blakeley, pointing out that that sawdust from the carpentry unit is now used in the veterinary nursing animal unit – resulting in a saving for EIT.

“As well as significantly reducing waste to landfill, the waste minimisation projects are changing attitudes.  The educational value of having the complete waste recycling system in one place and being able to physically demonstrate all steps of the process provides enormous benefit to individual and community understanding of recycling principles.”

EIT is now widening its environmental education role, encouraging schools, other tertiary providers, manufacturers and the wider community to share in the learning.