As we continue to focus on sustainable manufacturing processes in our factory, it has drawn our attention to waste in general. As humans, we continuously generate waste in many forms. While much of this may be unavoidable, it’s imperative to the health and longeivity of our natural environment that we manage the waste we produce as best we can. According to the Australian Government, over 5 million tonnes of wasted food ends up in landfill every year. Organic waste in landfill breaks down and releases methane which is a potent greenhouse gas. A large proportion of this food waste is compostable which is a lost opportunity to reduce negative impact on the environment and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. What can we do on a local level to reduce food waste going into land fill? We recently signed up two of our staff members to attend a worm farm workshop at the Marrickville Council offices. They both learned how to setup and manage a worm farm which is now reducing weekly food waste in our factory.
About worms and how to maintain a worm farm
To maintain a healthy worm farm requires a little bit of prior knowledge in order to keep it functioning at its best. Worms in a sense are just like Humans with being sensitive to their surrounds and needing a comfortable environment to thrive in. They eat up to half their body weight everyday and double their population every six months. Worms are living fertiliser tubes and full of beneficial bacteria and enzymes that help sustain the life and fertility of our horticultural and agricultural systems. Worms aerate soil which in turn allows more water to soak in. In a worm farm environment they need to be kept moist but not wet. An organic hessian material is used to cover the worms and food scraps in order to protect the farm.
Worm castings and juice
Worm castings will build up slowly as they consume food scraps and this can be harvested for plant fertiliser. When the worm farm is initially established check after about 12 weeks to determine if castings need to be harvested but this will depend on how much food they are consuming. After the first check on week 12, check around every 8 weeks. What is worm juice and how can it be used? The juice that accumulates in the bottom tray of a worm farm somtimes known as worm wee or worm tea is one of the best fertisilers you can use. It can be tapped from the tray itself and most worm farm kits have an inbuilt tap for easy extraction. The worm juice can be diluted ten parts to one for watering plants and it also acts as a natural insect repellent. What items of food waste are suitable to put into a worm farm? Vegetable scraps; fruit and vegetable peelings; tea leaves / bags and coffee grounds; vacuum cleaner dust or hair clippings both Human and animal; shredded newspapers; egg cartons; Crushed egg shells (these will also help with the pH balance) What food waste is not suitable for a worm farm? meats; citrus; onions and dairy foods can be added in very small amounts but are best avoided as the worms don’t eat this and it will remain inside the farm unprocessed.
For information on composting and worm farming visit the compost revolution website where you can find information and assistance.