Food Waste Composting
The composting program at Teng Hoi converts food waste in schools into compost for use in our partner farms to produce home grown vegetables with a low carbon footprint.
Teng Hoi partners with schools in Hong Kong and uses composting machines supplied by Safe Composting Technology to generate compost from food waste. The compost is taken to community farms to create a favorable growing environment for crops. Nutrients in food waste and manure, when composted, become safe nutrients for plants, which reduces the need for fertilizer. The vegetables can be purchased by parents and friends of the schools to support the program and help sustain this sustainable cycle of food, food waste, compost and crops. This process is also known as a circular economy system – a practical alternative to the pressing issue of food waste.
With modest funding we aim to create a culture in Hong Kong where people understand that it is possible to compost food waste and make a significant difference to reduce their environmental impact. We hope local and national governments will realize having composting facilities on site in places where food is acquired and given to visitors, such as schools and hospitals, is a resilient way to manage waste and alternate production cycles. We aim to reduce the amount of food waste entering landfills to actively combat global climate change.
Composting at the ISF Academy
The Independent Schools Foundation (ISF) Academy in Hong Kong provides an education that strongly supports experiential learning. The school offers a variety of programs in addition to the regular taught curriculum, which includes the Shu Yuan Program dedicated to promote scholarship in multiple disciplines such as the sciences and technology.
As part of the Shu Yuan Sustainability program, the ISF Academy is currently running a food-waste composting system since November 2014 to reduce its 27 metric tons of food waste generated every year. Food waste generated every day at the cafeteria is turned into compost to be used in their rooftop garden. Implemented by Diana Ibarra, the Shu Yuan coordinator at ISF, the program educates students on the importance of sustainability to encourage active conservation and aims to reduce their 14 tonnes of food waste produced annually. Over 400 students are involved in the rooftop garden each year: some students dedicate time to move the soil each week, others are writing research papers on the project, while all grade five students learn about the project in their Guided Discovery classes. The academy is expanding rapidly and Diana is looking to develop the current compost system so that the new kitchen on campus can be included.
Malcolm Pritchard, head of school at ISF, believes in the importance of creating an experiential bridge from the artificial world of school into the world beyond school. Through programs such as Shu Yuan, he hopes that the student community will be able to emerge into the world with the concept of global stewardship – the idea that the world is to be shaped positively in the short period of one’s lifetime with consideration for the next generation. Read more about Malcolm’s vision for ISF
To encourage students to truly understand the composting process, student-led research on soil gas measurement has also been conducted. Other examples of sustainability projects on campus include power consumption monitoring and cooking oil recycling. The ISF Academy will continue to work towards their goal to become greenhouse gas and carbon neutral.
We would like to express our sincere thanks to Malcolm and Diana for their leadership and active support as well as the ISF community for their interest in the Teng Hoi composting initiative. We look forward to further our ongoing partnership with the ISF Academy.
Our schools’ composting initiative has grown rapidly to help deliver practical and educational alternatives to simply throwing away food waste that is ultimately destined to be landfilled. We have worked closely with the British Chamber of Commerce, The Green Patch and HSBC to build a long-term programme called Growing Together that was launched as a pilot in August 2011.
Twenty schools (ten international and ten local schools) were selected to take part in the one‐year pilot program, during which students worked with Microgardens and Bokashi composting systems to foster their awareness of environmental and sustainability issues. The program originated as a way to encourage Corporate Social Responsibility across the British Chamber membership and aims to introduce students to organic farming.
The programme, which was easily built into the teaching curriculum, demonstrated the proven benefits that a creative, hands‐on, horticultural activity can have on schools and students, as well as serving as a useful catalyst to diversify the range of academic studies that are currently available in Hong Kong. Students learned to appreciate the value of organic materials in growing local, sustainable and non‐toxic fresh produce.
International and local schools were paired together to promote cultural exchange and knowledge sharing. The program also served as a method of English‐language enrichment for the local students. Growing and composting activities have created another dimension to classroom learning on environmental issues in subjects like General Studies and Liberal Studies. Inter‐school sharing offered local students an informal platform to improve their English language skills, while international students were able to engage with the wider community.
The Composting Process
The process is safe, clean and hygienic and integrates into our partner schools:
Meat and carbohydrates are separated from organic waste and placed into buckets.
The collected food waste is cut up using the macerator, then fed into the Dehydra to separate the ground food waste from excess water, successfully reducing weight and volume by up to 80%.
The food wastes which are now reduced in volume and weight are deposited and mixed with wood shaving and compost.
The organic waste mixture goes into the Rocket to be composted. It takes about a month for the compost to mature.
The compost is delivered to our partner organic farm to be used to grow vegetables and fruits.