In 2021 BAF partnered with Start-Up Taranaki and Zeal to deliver a programme with a cohort of young people learning about social enterprise and exploring issues within their local community that they might respond to.
Early on in the programme a group of young people focused on the growing issue of food waste from CBD businesses as there was no solution to this issue other than pig farmers collecting small scale food waste from cafes. With support from BAF and Start-Up Taranaki the idea of responding to this issue with a social enterprise was refined and validated and the concept of KAItiaki Composting emerged.
At the completion of the social enterprise programme BAF agreed to support these young changemakers to set-up a pilot for the initiative. To do this BAF set up a dedicated project and succeeded in securing funding from the TOI Foundation and MSD’s Food Secure Communities grant. We then worked with the changemakers at Zeal to recruit four local businesses to participate in the pilot which ran throughout 2022.
The pilot of KAItiaki Composting worked with the Marfell Community Garden and Sustainable Taranaki to collect food waste and compost it. Mitre 10 Mega and Pepper Construction helped to build the required compost bays from repurposed heat-treated pallets. Each business was provided with a wheelie bin and their food waste was collected once a week, composted and then used at the Marfell garden to grow more fruit and vegetables. Even with only four businesses in the pilot the project was removing 150-200 litres of food waste per week from the waste system.
The project also enabled the participating young people to learn how to establish and run a social enterprise. As well as collecting compost the young people from Zeal spent time at the Marfell garden learning how to compost properly and helped to care for and cultivate new crops on the garden, all valuable skills for their futures:
“I learnt how to build a business, from coming up with the idea through to now doing it every week.” Te Reinga Rangiwai
“I learnt how to run a business and all the different responsibilities. This has made me want to start my own business so that I can be my own boss and make my own money.” Kayne Taipari
At the completion of the pilot the partners agreed that it had been a huge success. Our young changemakers had grown their business and cultivation skills and could point to their experience running a successful pilot social enterprise as they sought future work opportunities. The KAItiaki Composting model was well tested and we were able to create a draft cashflow forecast showing how the pilot could be scaled up into a larger business opportunity, potentially providing an answer to the issue of business generated food waste. Christina Galley from Zeal commented that:
“The KAItiaki Compost social enterprise project has been a really successful collaboration between BAF and a wide range of other organisations. The young people involved have had the opportunity to take the lead on developing the project while being supported and mentored along the way. They have gained confidence in themselves and their abilities and matured into young men with visions of their future. The experience they have gained will be so helpful as they move from Zeal onto further education or employment. It has opened their eyes to wider ideas of what their future could look like and the potential they have.”
Issues that remain to be resolved include establishing enough community based composting venues to enable the initiative to scale up and securing sufficient funding to meet the high start-up costs such as vehicle purchase and provide security in the early phase as the business grows. However, the pilot has proven that business food waste can be collected and composted successfully. BAF has written up our experience and shared our learnings and data with a range of stakeholders with an interest in this issue.