How we cut our food and disposable packaging waste by 70% and turned it into enriched fertiliser within 24 hours.

Let me introduce you to our aerobic digestor (we’ve called him Gary) which can reduce down all of our food waste, disposables such as coffee cups and packaging and turn it into fertiliser that the grounds team uses across the university campus.


We would like to tell you it’s pure magic what goes on inside this machine, but in truth, it uses bacteria and oxygen to break down organic and biodegradable materials. Within 24 hours Gary will have reduced the mass of the contents by 80%!


Now, our priority has always been to reduce the number of disposable materials that we use, and whilst Our Conference centre in Bramber house is disposable free, (there isn’t a single  paper coffee cup insight.)


Unfortunately for our larger conferences, we’re not quite at that stage yet.


So we’ve shifted our focus towards managing the waste that is produced by using only biodegradable materials and then ensuring that the waste is handled on-site reducing the carbon emissions caused by transporting the waste.


You may be wondering what is wrong with just using a recyclable product. This is good and all but the likelihood of that piece of packaging making it to its second life is very slim due to the issue of cross-contamination, in particular food contamination. I won’t go into too much detail but remnants of food on packaging can’t be processed by the recycling plant to they simply end up in a landfill. You can read more about that here


Whereas on the other hand, food waste and bio-degradable waste can be processed together which makes sense for a food and beverage service to make that switch.  And even if someone puts a bio-degradable plate with their sandwich crusts on it into a general waste bin, it will still break down and contribute to the soil health – just like your garden waste bin at home.


By now I hope we’ve convinced you of the benefits to use an aerobic digester,  here is a list of everything that can go in –


  • Coffee Cups & Lids
  • Paper food trays
  • Hot food containers
  • Bio-cutlery – forks, knives and spoons
  • Wooden Stirrers
  • Hospitality food boxes
  • Food (of course)


Since Gary has joined the university has gone from filling 9 household bins of food a week with food waste that needed to be collected down to just 2 bins, and hopefully, sometime in the future, this waste could be used as biofuel to heat the buildings that you sit in to eat your lunch!