The same idea that has long appealed to home gardeners – use your waste to feed your soil to feed your vegetables to feed yourself – has gone commercial. Closed Loop is a Melbourne-based company that produces zero-waste solutions, including compost systems for the hospitality industry. These use electricity to heat, agitate and aerate food waste to produce speedy compost.
Closed Loop composters have celebrity cachet - acclaimed Melbourne chef Ben Shewry has installed one at his restaurant, Attica. So has NOMA in Copenhagen, repeatedly voted top restaurant in the world. In Sydney, the Boathouse at Palm Beach was an early adopter. Owner Andrew Goldsmith says the system has cut the waste collection bill from $5000 a month to $2000. Food waste from the company’s other two venues, at Balmoral and Whale Beach, are taken for composting to Palm Beach, which produces too much compost for the cafe's own vegetable garden. Compost is now shared with the cafe's herb grower and flower grower, as well as customers with gardens.
The boldest expression of haute compost is the Amaze garden, coming soon to Pyrmont Bridge. The project seems to be about growing food, but is actually about waste reduction. Closed Loop has developed composting systems for some of the businesses at Darling Harbour. Their converted waste will be mixed with growing medium to grow fruit and vegetables in trellis gardens designed by sustainability entrepreneur Joost Bakker.
The Closed Loop system has a domestic version too, called Clo’ey. It looks like a small chest freezer, and is designed for the kitchen, laundry, garage, or shed, where it will chew up to four kilograms of waste food a day. That sounds like a huge amount, but the NSW government’s Love Food Hate Waste campaign estimates NSW households throw away $2.5 billion of edible food every year. Most of that goes to landfill where it produces methane rather than compost. Much better for everyone if we keep it at home, turn what we can into leftovers and compost the rest. Wire or wood-enclosed bins out the back work fine; commercial systems are quicker and less effort.