BAN Waste Select Committee evidence

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Phase 1 Day 4 2001-10-08 Steve Tinling (Cityworks Home Composting Project, Newcastle City Council)

written evidence submitted in advance

Newcastle City Councils Home Composting Scheme

The scheme is part of Newcastle City Councils waste reduction strategy which aims to reduce the amount of waste destined for landfill disposal, to raise residents perception of "waste" and to encourage the use of the "4 R�s" - Reduce, Re-use, Repair, Re-cycle.

Newcastle residents are offered the chance to purchase up to two home composting bins, at the subsidised price of only �6.00 each (R.R.P. �29.95).

The bins are green in colour, have a capacity of .22 cubic metres or 8 cubic feet - small enough to fit into most makes of car, yet large enough for an average sized garden. They are manufactured using a high percentage re-cycled plastic content and have a life expectancy of approximately 10 years.

The purchaser also receives a comprehensive instruction leaflet, specially written by the Home Composting Team, and can use the Compost Hotline - a support service offering advice to novice and experienced composter alike.

How Do I Get A Compost Bin?

We don�t normally deliver compost bins. They have to be purchased and collected from the project�s office at Jesmond Dene Nursery; this enables the purchaser to be given instruction, at the point of sale, by experienced composters. However, if you do not have transport and cannot persuade a friend or relative to drive you down, please give us a call and we will try and arrange delivery.

Opening Hours

The project operates on a part time basis, and our office hours are normally as follows:

Monday - Friday 9.30 - 2.30
Saturday�s 9.00 - 12.00

Due to our many public outreach commitments, our office hours may change. We would therefore advise customers to telephone to ensure the office is open on the day they intend to visit.

Demonstration Garden

We have an allotment-sized garden on site; this demonstrates various methods of dealing with more troublesome �green wastes� such as grass clippings, autumn leaves and prunings. It also has working compost bins and experimental bins.

In addition, the garden also demonstrates traditional Native American gardening practices, which are less labour intensive, ecologically sound, organic, sustainable, and have a positive environmental impact. It shows many varieties of familiar and unfamiliar food crops in unusual, beautiful, colourful and decorative forms.

What Else Does The Composting Project Offer?

Practical advice on;

Phone The Compost Hotline For Directions and Advice
0191 2781969
If you get the answer machine - we are either busy with a customer, or closed. Please leave your name and phone number and we will ring you back as soon as possible.
Home Composting Team
0191 2781969


Home Composting Project

The scheme is part of Newcastle City Councils waste reduction strategy which aims to reduce the amount of waste destined for landfill disposal, to raise residents perception of �waste� and to encourage the use of the �4 R�s�-Reduce, Re-use, Repair, Re-cycle. Newcastle residents are offered the chance to purchase a home composting bin for the token sum of �6.00. The bin is manufactured using a high percentage re-cycled plastic content. The purchaser receives a comprehensive instruction leaflet, specially written by the home composting team, the opportunity to attend a compost training session and access to the Compost Hotline- a support service offering advice and the exchange of views to the novice and experienced composter alike.

The home composting team is of the opinion that a compost bin is for life and that composting should become a part of every-ones lifestyle. We further believe that by giving training, help and support to bin purchasers we can ensure that they can produce reasonable compost first time, and will continue to compost thereafter. We have sold in excess of 5000compost bins since the scheme began, all bin sales and customer details are logged and details kept on database.

A brief training is given to every purchaser at the point of sale, at Jesmond Dene Nursery. It is estimated that each compost bin sold will divert up to � Tonne of organic material from the waste stream per year.


Running in parallel to our work with householders is our schools composting scheme.

Each school participating in the scheme receives,

Composting is a very simple, practical activity that has many links to the National Curriculum, in particular to science KS2, AT2 "Life Processes and Living Things". Further links can be made through Science, Geography, Design and Technology, Art and History.

To date we have 20 schools actively composting, this scheme is available free of charge to all Newcastle schools.


Numerous Allotment Associations including Oxnam Gardens, Jesmond Vale, Longstone Square and Armstrong, have taken composting to heart and have bulk purchased compost bins for members use on their individual plots. 2 other allotment sites, Iris Brickfield and Moorside Allotments have had large New Zealand type bins constructed by the composting team, for community composting use by their members.

All have benefited from the advice, support and expertise of the composting team.


Cityworks Home Composting Scheme has helped in advising, setting up and bin construction for 2 community-composting schemes in Newcastle - Arthur�s Hill and Summerhill Square. Again large New Zealand 3 bin systems where employed. Both schemes are running successfully, with only a few minor problems, i.e., paint spraying and attempted arson to one of the compost bins. Materials for composting consist mainly of member�s kitchen and garden green "waste"; Arthur�s Hill also accepts "waste" fruit and vegetables from a local greengrocer.

Other community schemes are in the planning stages but as of yet, nothing is definite.


A pilot scheme to collect and compost kitchen and garden "waste" from 1200 households in the Chapel Park area of Newcastle was initiated 21.10.98

Each of the 1200 households has been loaned a small 140 litre wheeled bin to collect kitchen and garden recyclable materials in. The householders are asked to place an old news paper in the bottom of the bin and to wrap kitchen scraps in paper or paper bags to help eradicate odour problems and to absorb excess moisture. Garden debris is placed directly into the bin. We request that no plastic bags be put into the bin.

The bin is emptied every Wednesday, by a designated wagon. The domestic refuse is collected separately on the usual day.

Once collected, the compostable material is taken to Benwell Transfer Station, weighed, and then sent to a nearby site for composting.

Prior to the start of the collection, residents where leafleted on 2 occasions with details of the scheme, instructions etc. and where invited to an exhibition at the local community centre. At the exhibition a wheeled bin was available for inspection, a display explaining why organic "waste" needs special attention, why compost, videos where shown, etc., etc. Residents where able to discuss the scheme with Newcastle City Council�s Recycling Officer, Gear�id Henry. The Exhibition ran from 12.00 noon to 8.00 p.m. and was well received.

The scheme is voluntary, and we have had an 85% uptake, anyone not wanting to participate was offered a home-composting bin. Some people wanted both and a few people, sadly, wanted neither.

A little over 7 tonnes of green material was collected in the first week�s pick up, with minimal contamination from non-organics; (subsequent collections have yielded an average of 4 tonnes). As an explanatory instruction leaflet was posted to every house participating in the scheme; any house found with a contaminated bin received a duplicate leaflet to act as a gentle reminder. The collection crew were tailed by Newcastle City Council�s Recycling Officer, who knocked on door�s and talked to residents, problem solving, praising them for their efforts, explaining the aims of the scheme and listening to their views.


Two mobile displays constantly tour the City Library�s, consisting of a compost bin, and our publicity handouts, posters etc., we have found this to be a very cheap and effective form of advertising. Posters promoting the scheme are also displayed in every Post Office, Rent Office, Council Office, D.S.S. Office and just about every other public building in Newcastle.

We attend as many local events and festivals as possible i.e. Newcastle Green Festival, launch of Newcastle�s L.A.21 strategy, Newcastle M.E.L.A. (Asian Music Festival), local plant sales, not merely to sell compost bins but to talk about why we all need to compost.

Advertising in City life has proven successful, but we have found that a lot of sales are generated by word of mouth.


Steve has a long-standing private arrangement with North Tyneside Council, to deliver compost-training sessions to North Tyneside residents. Durham City and County Council, Sunderland City Council and Gateshead M.B.C. have also expressed an interest in training sessions, which could be delivered through the Cityworks framework, or by private arrangement.


Cityworks Home Composting Scheme is a member of the C.C.N. (Community Composting Network), and Steve holds a position on the Steering Committee. The project is also a member of The Newcastle Community Food Initiative steering group, and Steve is part of worker, Clair Levi�s, management team.

Further information regarding any of Newcastle City Council�s composting activities can be obtained by calling the

0191 2781969 Tel / Fax.


Working with the City Council�s Home Composting Team, a group of community gardeners have been allocated a plot of land within Jesmond Dene Nursery, Newcastle, to create a traditional Native American Indian garden. The focal point is a �Three Sisters� styled garden, the �Three Sisters� being, corn, beans and squash, which give maximum cropping in a minimum of space. Other traditional plants, both well and lesser known, that have either a medicinal or food value have been planted alongside.

The garden demonstrates traditional Native American gardening practices, these being less labour intensive, ecologically sound, organic, sustainable, and having a positive environmental impact. It shows many varieties of familiar food crops in unusual, beautiful, colourful and decorative forms. Plants will be labelled with detailed descriptions, and wherever possible, background information regarding the traditional uses will be given.

The selected seed stock is traditional/heritage non-F.1 hybrids, including many rare varieties, suitable for seed saving. This will enable them to create a seed bank for future garden use, and as seed stocks increase, seeds and plants will become available for distribution to fellow gardeners.

The use and saving of these rare, traditional/heritage seed stocks can play a major role in the conservation of the ever-dwindling gene pool - ensuring greater genetic bio-diversity for future generations.

By demonstration, it shows that everyone can easily grow something to eat - regardless of whether they have a garden or not, be it a solitary tomato plant in a pot in the window, or a few potatoes in a bucket by a sunny door, to a garden full of vegetables.

Whilst the �Good Road� is working with, it remains independent of, The Home Composting Team; they have recently been awarded �1000 from the Newcastle Community Food Initiative Start Up Fund to develop the garden.

Write to us at

Cityworks Composting Team, City Grounds, Jesmond Dene Road, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE2 2EY

Steve Tinling staffs Cityworks Home Composting Project, and it is hoped an additional worker will be appointed in the near future. The scheme operates in conjunction with Newcastle City Council�s Recycling Officer, Gearoid Henry, and is part of the City Council�s continuing efforts to promote sustainability and reduce environmental pollution.

Updated 27/09/01