Glenorchy Community Composting - Pilot Project

Glenorchy Community Composting

The community composting is a commercial-scale composting system that will provide the community the opportunity to compost its organic waste in town. The initial project will run as a 12-month pilot in a partnership between Queenstown Lake District Council, Zero Waste Glenorchy, Hewland Projects and The Headwaters.


A Community Composting system was first discussed with the community in 2017 at a meeting with the Glenorchy Community Association. A feasibility study followed, confirming that there was sufficient organic waste and cardboard to operate a community scale composting facility. Partial funding was secured from The Ministry for the Environment and Community Trust South, with the balance from The Headwaters. Physical works commenced then Covid struck and the project went into hibernation. It is now ready to go and the Queenstown Lakes District Council (QLDC) are co-funding a 12 month pilot operation with the Ministry for the Environment. 

Why is this project happening?

Organic waste in a landfill breaks down without oxygen and forms methane and carbon dioxide gases, which contribute to global warming and therefore Climate Change. All organic waste that gets thrown out in rubbish bins, is carted in trucks all the way to Victoria Flats landfill, 80 kms away, weekly, also adding more CO2 to the equation. The government is making kerbside organic waste collection a high priority and the township of Glenorchy is a test case for the rest of the district.

We recognise many people in our community already compost at home which is great and we don’t want to replace home composting. However, there is still a large amount of organic waste produced commercially and residentially in Glenorchy that is ending up in the landfill. One of the advantages of a composting system like the one being trialled through this project is that it can handle a wider variety of organic waste than a household compost bin. We will be able to accept meat and dairy products, cooked food, small bones and bird carcasses, egg shells, citrus, onion peels, avocado seeds, and other items not recommended for some household composting systems. We will also be able to accept some cardboard(by arrangement only), as it adds carbon fibre to the composting mix.

The in-vessel composting system is also fully enclosed,  working 365 days a year right through winter. The composter is designed to maintain optimal temperature, moisture, and ventilation levels to promote the rapid breakdown of organic matter in all seasons. The same system is successfully used in places like Alaska, Norway and Canada. 


The purpose of the pilot operation is to;

  • Build composting skills and awareness of organic waste impacts
  • Divert organic waste (food scraps, cardboard, and limited greenwaste) from the landfill
  • Improve data and research to inform QLDC's future organics waste planning
  • Provide educational opportunities for visitors and the community, including workshops on composting and sustainable waste management, and other sustainability topics

Ultimately, the project is supporting  the Glenorchy Shaping our Futures Environment vision - A community that is recognised for conservation, environmental, and sustainability leadership. A zero-waste community, 100% capture and recycling of nutrients and materials.

About the Composter

The composter is the Earth Flow system, designed and manufactured by Green Mountain Technologies. It is a recycled/converted shipping container, fully automated in‐vessel “hot” composting system that provides optimum conditions for composting in 14‐21 days. It produces a superior quality compost that is lightweight, fluffy, homogeneous, extremely friable, and highly oxygenated. Five different engineering controls combine to provide unsurpassed control over air quality and pests. 

The composter facility is located on The Headwaters property behind Mrs Woollys General Store. It includes a concrete pad with the “Earth flow” container, and 3 wooden curing bins.

What will the operation include?

The community composter is a 12-month pilot project and the operation will consist of: 

  • Public food waste drop-off wheelie bin at Mrs Woollys (starts late April)
  • Food waste collection/drop off for commercial operators (starts May) 
  • Food waste collection for participating residents (starts late October)
  • Occasional green waste drop-off by appointment only (May)
  • Occasional cardboard drop-off from commercial operators by appointment only (Starts May)

Participating businesses and residents will be provided with collection containers (details TBC) and the collections will be done using an eBike with a custom-built bin trailer.

Who is involved?

The facility is owned by The Headwaters Ltd and is on free loan to the community for the duration of the pilot period.  The 12 month pilot scheme is co-funded by the QLDC and the Ministry for the Environment. The operator of the facility is Zero Waste Glenorchy, with support from Hewland Projects Ltd.

Key dates

23 March - Soft opening with key stakeholders

12 April - Start composting commercial business food waste 

12 April - Public drop off wheelie bin set up at Mrs Woollys open

27 April – Formal launch and community open day

May-October – educational workshops and open days for the community

Late October – residential kerbside collection of food waste started 

Late January 2024 – the pilot period wraps up / evaluation / review

This project is proudly supported by Queenstown Lakes District Council and the Ministry for the Environment.