Auckland city students launch bee sanctuary compost hub 

March 30, 2023

Auckland city students launch bee sanctuary compost hub 

University of Auckland’s bee sanctuary volunteers lay down mulch for their new community compost hub located at 19 Eden Crescent. Photo: Rebecca Lu.

University of Auckland bee sanctuary volunteers have installed a community compost hub to combat food waste and nourish native pollinators in the city centre.

The bee sanctuary, founded in 2018 by students, is a green habitat filled with trees, flowers, and native plants that attract bees and other pollinator insects.

Since September last year, the sanctuary has been receiving food scraps from the community and turning them into compost for the sanctuary’s garden and bee food.

With the installation of new composting bins funded by Auckland Council’s Waste Minimisation and Innovation fund more scraps are due to be processed this year.

Leader of the bee sanctuary team, Livia Strub, says the project aims to minimise the amount of compostable waste in Auckland landfills.

Compost Collective reports that 50 per cent of what Auckland households send to landfill is compostable material.

Food waste alone weighs in at 100,000 tonnes, according to Auckland Council.

Strub says this is a serious environmental problem.

“Food waste breaking down in landfill produces significant amounts of methane gas which we want to reduce. Methane is a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions,” she says.

Although the council is rolling out a food scrap collection service this year, the city centre is not included in the coverage area.

The bee sanctuary’s compost hub is a way to reach the urban community and make composting more accessible for residents.

“We’ve had more than 260 kg of food waste diverted from landfills already, and with the new bins we can do over a tonne more for the rest of the year,” says Strub.

“There’s over 4000 people who live within a five-minute walk of the sanctuary that could benefit from this initiative. They know they can come to enjoy the space and utilise the hub.”

Local resident and environmental advocate, Manav Dave, believe the compost hub will be a great resource for those who lack the facilities to compost at home.

“I’ve been [composting] at home for years and it can be a complicated process requiring resources and space. This can be particularly tricky in urban residences.

“That’s why it’s awesome that a city-based community compost is removing some of those restraints and giving locals the option to adopt more sustainable habits if they desire.”

Volunteer Paula Araya, who attended the compost hub installation, says it feels great to participate in a project which helps the pollinators and the people.

Strub says the community support for the bee sanctuary and its composting hub has been strong.

“We had about 150 volunteers come through last year.”

“The initiative has been a meeting point for university students and local residents. It’s bringing different groups in the community together to connect with nature.”

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