Updated: May 21
What an exciting day we've had here at The Crafty Pickle! We've taken some time off from working with our fermenty-babies to visit the Keenan processing plant in New Deer to see how they handle food waste that they collect from our homes and from commercial enterprises.
Food and garden waste comes from all over Scotland and the North of England to their processing facilities which are just HUGE. Grant Keenan (the head-honcho and name-giver to Keenan) was kind enough to take us on a tour of this mightily impressive set up. Ever wondered what happens to your food waste once you've sent it on its way in it's little compostable bag? We're going to explain it to you... Crafty Pickle style.
Lorries carrying a shit-tonne (metric of course) of food waste arrive at the facility. This waste is weighed and then dumped into a processing machine that sorts packaging from food.
The food is shredded and mixed with wood chips and lime to increase the pH, ensure the correct ratio of carbon to nitrogen and make sure air can circulate to keep the compost aerobic. It's then formed into huge stinky, steamy piles where the microbes naturally present on the food and from the air begin to break it down, creating a load of heat. Thermophiles (heat-lovin bacteria) are super happy at this point.
After a couple of weeks the (what you might call) pre-compost is conveyored into one of 18 giant vertical composting units (VCUs) where the good stuff really happens. Temperatures here have to reach at least 70 degrees which makes sure any pathogenic bacteria are good and dead. This is similar control method to the low pH of our veggie ferments where when the pH drops below 4.6 we can be sure food-poisoning bacteria are wiped out.
When this stage is complete the compost is sent to a designated 'clean' area to mature for another couple of weeks, where it's continually aerated, before it's seived again to remove any nasty bits (plastic, metal etc) and is then ready for farmers to pick up!
This whole process takes a teeny 5 weeks and means farmers get a near-constant supply of tasty compost to feed their crops. YUM. Thanks to facilities like this the thousands of tonnes food scraps that would otherwise be sent to landfill are rescued and repurposed for compost or biofuel. We take our hats off to you!
Thanks again to Grant Keenan for showing us around! We still smell like a compost heap thanks to you!
To find out more about the awesome work Keenan does check out the links below: