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Vancouver soup kitchen finds organics solution

By Stefania Seccia

Union Gospel Mission worker Keela Keeping looking inside the new composter, which transforms the materials into soil in only 24 hours. 
(Photo By Jeremy Mckay/24 hours)

Union Gospel Mission worker Keela Keeping looking inside the new composter, which transforms the materials into soil in only 24 hours. (Photo By Jeremy Mckay/24 hours)

With the help of a microbe found deep in the Pacific Ocean, Union Gospel Mission is taking away its bins of organics and replacing them with a composter that recycles scraps into soil in 24 hours.

“They smell really bad, they attract rodents and it stinks and we have to pay for it too,” said Keela Keeping, UGM spokeswoman. “It also comes at a cost.”

Through research, UGM’s kitchen manager Randy Spark found the second generation GreenGood Composter machine, which is the first of its kind in Canada.

Keeping said it’ll help with waste after the 320,000 annual meals served every year.

“It’s a higher cost to start, but over time it will pay for itself,” she said. “Ideally, there should be a little bit of a cost-savings for us. Even if it was a neutral cost-savings, it’s so much better for the environment.”

Keeping said with the commercial-sized composter, they’ll still have one-to-two bins of soil.

Normally the recycling process takes 60 days, said Keeping.

Robert Weatherbe, Recycling Alternative co-owner, said the Korean technology behind the machine operates using an aerobic dry composting system using a thermophylic microbe.

“The actual microbe is derived from the deep sea, Pacific Ocean, so it’s a very robust microbe,” he said. “Within 24 hours you get up to an 80% reduction in the volume of the material and it goes through what’s called a pathogen kill – so there’s no harmful bacteria left.”

Weatherbe said the leftover soil could given to local community gardens.

“It smells a bit like coffee at the end of the day,” he said. “It’s quite an amazing piece of machinery.”

Up to 95% of the waste’s volume is reduced through evaporating water and the discharging of carbon gas.

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