How to Start Composting Your Office Fruit &- Veg Waste At Work
As the owner of an office fruit delivery business in Dublin I am confronted with the issue of food waste on a daily basis. One measure NudieFoods takes to reduce waste is to donate produce leftover at the end of each day’s office fruit deliveries to charity. It’s easy for us to do because we are delivering fruit to offices on a mass scale.
But what about the fruit that is leftover in the workplace? Generally It is thrown out alongside unfinished meals, gone-off items and the scraps and cut-offs of raw foods.
Separating this kind of waste into the ‘brown bin’ is thankfully routine in Ireland today. But we can do better than that!
The brown bin is used for all food waste including raw and cooked meat, fish, dairy and grains. This needs to be processed by refuge services and can still end up in landfills. Organic waste, on the other hand, being closer to source, can be recycled naturally. The way we do this is by composting.
Why Compost at Work?
Many offices and workplaces in Ireland have made firm commitments to reducing and recycling paper, plastic and metals. I see this all the time when I deliver my fruit boxes to Dublin companies and I think it is fantastic. But why not place the same ethos on recycling food waste too? Banana skins and apple cores can also be recycled!
And - good news for offices you can also include used teabags and coffee grounds. I’m yet to visit an office that doesn’t accumulate those by the bucket load!
Benefits of composting office fruit and veg
- it represents a positive measure in developing a sustainable workplace
- is good for the environment
- and promotes environmental awareness to employees
- It can support other ‘local’ green initiatives
- and counts towards corporate social responsibility (CSR).
So, what do you need to think about when setting up an office compost system?
I’m a firm believer that workplaces of all sizes can implement a composting system. It just needs a bit of practical planning. Whether you're a company of 3 or 300 the following questions will help to establish the parameters of your office composting set-up.
Where do employees eat and throw out waste from their lunch?
Is space available beside the brown bin for an organic fruit and veg compost bin? If not, can it be made?
Who empties the bins at the end of the day? Can this person/building maintenance team be tasked with managing compost too? Is it necessary to nominate dedicated individuals from your staff to take responsibility for the office compost?
What kind of office compost system do you want?
- This will depend on the volume of organic waste your company produces. This, in turn, is related to the number of employees there are.
- Very small teams can consider a wormery compost - ‘vermicomposting’ - which can be housed indoors. The amount that can be put in is limited, however.
- Medium to large teams will need an outdoor compost bay for emptying bins into. This needs moisture to encourage decay and will also need to be turned on occasion. Adding grass cuttings and dried leaves is also helpful?
Does your building have an outdoor space that is suitable for a compost bay?
If you can compost on-site, what is your plan for distributing and using the compost you produce?
Will it be used to enrich the green areas and flower beds around your office building?
Will you offer employees who are keen gardeners the composted material to use at home?
If you don’t have space or can’t managean outdoor compost bay, what is your plan for collection?
Can you engage a third party hauling service or commercial composting service to collect office fruit and veg wasteeach week?
Can you ask employees to take amassed organic waste home to their own garden compost?
Is there a local schools running green initiatives that will take compost from your office?
What about a nearby community garden? Would they welcome ready to use compost, or indeed house or manage your outdoor compost bay for you? Check out this list of Dublin Community Growers Websiteto locate one near you.
What can be put in an office compost?
Different composting ‘recipes’ exist depending on their use destination. But as a general rule of thumb I recommend sticking to a strictly raw policy.
Here Are Some Do’s and Don’ts for Office Compositing
- Coffee Grounds
- banana skins
- Apple cores
- Grape vines
- Mango Skins
- Pineapple skin and leaves
- Salad Leaves
- Avocado Skin
- And Pretty much any other raw fruit or vegetables
- Citrus Peels like Orange and Lemon in
- Salad veg coated in dressings
- Fruit and Veg contaminated with sauces or other food products
- Put in large chunks of fruit or veg -breaking it into smaller pieces means it will decompose quicker.
Some Final Workplace Composting Tips
- Put signs up to tell people what they can and can’t put in the compost
- Deliver Staff awareness and training on the office compost system on installation
- Once available show staff the positive impact their compost system is having
There you have it folks! Next time I deliver fruit to your office I’d love to see and hear about your newly installed office compost!
A Rotting Good Farewell for Now,
Paul - the NudieFoods Guy