Composting system benefits schools

Composting system designed to be suitable for all food waste, requires no electricity and is carbon negative, has diverted 1,000 tonnes of food from landfill

Sending food waste to landfill is unnecessary, unsustainable and costly. Discussing the problem in an Exmoor pub one night were Richard Gedge – an ex-stockbroker who now runs an award-winning farm for its green credentials – and Dan Welburn, a former formula one engineer. Together, after experimenting with prototypes, they created the Ridan composter.

Capable of composting up to 400 litres of food waste a week, they have helped divert over 1,000 tonnes from landfill in two years, according to the company. They are proving popular with hotels, National Trust sites, prisons and even climbing centres.

Perhaps most importantly, colleges and schools are using them, not only to save money on disposal costs, but to help raise environmental awareness about the food cycle – helping young people to learn to appreciate food and think about prioritising locally sourced food. Food miles are usually considered with the distance from where it is produced to where it is consumed. But perhaps less often does anyone factor in the distance that wasted food travels to be disposed.

The ‘in-vessel’ composter is simple to use say its manufacturers, and it is suitable for all food waste, including cooked and raw, meat and dairy. The Ridan composting process requires no electricity and is carbon negative. Its design led to it being a finalist in the Devon Environmental Business Initiative (DEBI) awards in its first year. It was recognised not only for its sustainable practice in dealing with food waste, but also for savings in emissions. The process saves in combustion emissions through eliminating transportation, as well as reducing the methane from decomposing matter, which occurs in landfill.

“We are proud of what we have achieved so far and are now expanding rapidly. One day it will be standard practice for every catering facility to compost on-site,” says Dan Welburn. And his best moment since their system was launched? “Watching ‘I’ve got a brand new Ridan Composter’ sung by children at an assembly to the tune of Wurzels.”