Nature & Science
Community composting in Narborough
Cut Your Carbon: Compo
By Martin Barber
Compo, the award-winning composting scheme in west Norfolk, collects garden waste and glass from the village of Narborough. The project uses just one vehicle to collect on behalf of the local community, cutting carbon emmissions in the process.
On Monday mornings, no matter what the weather, the Compo team can be seen in action around the village of Narborough near King's Lynn.
Set up in 2005, the community composting project visits homes in the village to collect garden waste and glass for recycling.
"Simply too much garden waste goes into landfill and everybody can make compost," said Tim Cara of Forward And Futures, the charity that set up the Compo project.
"In an area like this where you're miles away from good ways of disposing of garden waste, amenities sites for example, it makes sense to do it locally," he added.
Around 150 households in Narborough, roughly half the village, are signed-up to the Compo scheme. Residents pay £20 a year to take part.
The Compo scheme helps to reduce carbon emissions as just one vehicle is used to make the collection on behalf of the households which have enrolled in the project, rather than ever householder using their car to dispose of their recyclable material.
Compo not only encourages a greener footprint, but it makes the process of doing your bit for the environment much easier. Leave your recyclables on your doorstep - and the Compo team will do the rest.
"It's helping the environment, it gets rid of all my rubbish and I just believe in it," said villager Ann Still.
"I would like to do my part and they're doing it for me. They take all my bottles, all the stuff and compost it – it's just great," she added.
Preparing the collection for composting
Collection to cash
Once the collection is finished, the volunteers return to their base in the village to start the process of turning the collection into cash.
The glass is sorted for recycling and the green waste is used as the raw material for compost which, once produced, is sold back to the community.
Compo produces 35 tonnes of compost per year from the Narborough project and collects 15 tonnes of glass per year.
This earns government recycling credits for the scheme, worth approximately £40 per ton for garden waste, and £20 per ton for bottle glass.
Norfolk is something of a hotbed when it comes to composting - with the amount of refuse composted and recycled here well above the national average.
The Compo scheme is already an award-winner, when it comes to being green it seems this team has struck gold.
"This model is very easy to replicate. It's cheap, it's easy to construct and... however you do this it involves a team of people working together," said Tim Cara.
"It could be done by people with learning difficulties [as in the Narborough project], a community itself, an allotment society – anybody who has got a group of volunteers together can run a community composting project," he added.
Norfolk County Council is keen for other parts of the county to take a leaf out of Compo's book.
"This scheme qualified for an Acorn grant and it got support from Breckland District Council and Narborough village council," said Cllr Ian Monson, cabinet member for environment and waste.
"I'm not certain if there is more European finance or funds available, but from the point of view of councils wanting to help, I'm sure if anybody comes forward with a project like this we can probably find funding from somewhere.
"Not necessarily from the county, but from the district council," he added.
Dawn Dack said developing trust is vital
In partnership with the BBC East Cut Your Carbon project, a three year initiative from March 2008, the East Of England Development Agency will also offer advice and support for all communities interested in cutting their carbon.
They are keen to hear from anyone interested in taking part and will make grants of £5000 to £200,000 available for selected projects across the region.
Compo is a success due to the support it gets from the local community who've come to rely on the hard-work put in by the scheme's volunteers.
"Once you've started a project you've got to keep it going on a regular basis," said Narborough site manager Dawn Dack.
"Once we said we'd be round every week, you have got to be round every week. We've done it now for three years and they know every week we're going to turn up.
"I think having trust in something that you're signing up for is the main thing. If you say you're going to do something you've got to stick to it," she added.
last updated: 19/05/2008 at 12:07