ood waste is notoriously difficult to recycle without the dreaded and ever-present smell of decomposing peels and busybody insects. This year's sustainable TEDxSydney event has found a solution to this problem in the form of GaiaRecycle - a nifty machine that dehydrates food scraps at the source and diverts it from composting and landfill streams.
Originating in South Korea, GaiaRecycle takes about nine hours to work its magic and reduces the volume of waste by a whopping 85%. What's more, the biomass that remains is an ideal fertiliser (10 times stronger than regular compost) or fuel.
"Treating the waste in this way reduces by 90% the greenhouse gas emissions that would otherwise be created in landfill," says Doug Wilson, one of the Directors at Eco Guardians.
In fact, every two tonnes of food waste kept out of landfill has virtually the same effect as taking two small cars off the road.
The installation of GaiaRecycle at TEDxSydney also means that in addition to growing it local, all food waste created at this year's event will be managed sustainably.
"All of the biomass created on the day will be donated to OzHarvest for use in the kitchen garden of their new Harvest Hub headquarters, which will also function as an educational facility and training kitchen,"says TEDxSydney Food Curator Jill Dupleix. "This way the cycle of sustainable consumption is well and truly complete."
The Sydney Opera House, too, is pleased to be in on the act. “Sydney Opera House is committed to reducing the waste we send to landfill and we congratulate TEDxSydney on their efforts to recycle the food from their event,” says Naomi Martin, Environmental Sustainability Manager.
But it's not just TEDxers who are putting more effort into in-house recycling. Municipalities and businesses all over Australia are earning themselves a big "green tick" by cancelling organic waste collections and looking into devices like GaiaRecycle.
"It's win-win," says Bakker. "Not only are we operating in a sustainable way, but we're busier than ever because of it. A lot of people come in because they're on board with the idea of a cafe that generates next to no waste.”
Aside from increased sales and patronage, Bakker admits that turning restaurant waste into biomass has other financial benefits. "We've seen the yearly rent at our Perth premises reduced by as much as $10,000 because the landlord no longer has to pay for bins to be picked up and dropped off. There's definitely real savings to be had."
Don't forget to look for the GaiaRecycle machine at the Sydney Opera House on May 4 or you can visit Eco Guardians for more information.