Kiwi ingenuity

25 years ago four young men decided that they would do waste treatment on a large scale. Today Living Earth is this country’s largest composter.

February 11, 2019

Since 2014 Living Earth from Auckland, New Zealand has been part of Waste Management NZ Limited, with the company making high-quality compost at four locations which collect more than 120,000 tonnes of green cuttings and organic waste.

Daniel O’Carroll has been the Branch Manager at the Christchurch site since 2014. “Working for a business that is focused on great environmental and sustainable outcomes just felt right and aligned with my personal values.” As an enthusiastic endurance athlete and long-distance walker, he often cycles to work. “It’s just 15 minutes,” he says with a smile.

The Christchurch plant has been in operation since 2009 and is owned by the city, with Living Earth having a 15-year contract to run it. “Christchurch is one of only two municipalities in New Zealand to collect food and garden organic waste separately,” explains O’Carroll. This collection adds up to 50,000 tonnes a year, with wide seasonal variation in volume. “Naturally that has major effects on our operations.”

“In the spring we get more grass. So we need lots of additional structural material for the composting process,” says O’Carroll. To provide it, overlengths from screening are reshredded and returned to the process. The dark green machines from Komptech play a vital role in all this.

“A stationary Crambo 6000 does the preshredding,” explains O’Carroll. The material is then rotted intensively in tunnels for about two weeks, followed by eight weeks of open-air curing. “That’s where the Topturn X63 comes in.” The Komptech project office in Vienna is working on a new solution for the subsequent separation, since that is the bottleneck in the process. O’Carrol already has a pretty good idea of whatit will look like: “This step will involve a feed hopper, stationary Cribus 3800 drum screen and contrary removal with a Stonefex or Hurrifex.”

“With machines that take 10 weeks to get to New Zealand, you can imagine how important service is here on the other side of the world. With ELB Equipment we have the right partner,” says O´Carroll in praise of his ELB rep John Grant. “Their service and the availability of spare and wear parts are excellent,” he adds. “That’s how it’s supposed to be. Support from an expert provider is the most important thing to me.”