Australian start-up, The Compost Depot, is on a mission to reduce the amount of organic waste going to landfill. They set up a community worm farm/compost depot in Melbourne for locals who cannot compost their waste at home. As they want to grow their impact they applied for and were granted $200 000 from the Australian government.
High time for a quick catch-up with this 2018 ClimateLaunchpad participant. We were on the phone with founder Kirsteen Macleoud.
Congratulations on that grant, how will you use the money?
“Thank you. We applied for the grant shortly after doing ClimateLaunchpad last year. Since receiving it we have been able to start running workshops and other education on composting and reducing food waste. We’re really focusing on awareness and behaviour change. We encourage people to start composting and create awareness among local communities and neighbourhood buildings. And at the Span Community House in Thornbury (Melbourne, Australia) we created our first community compost depot for locals to compost their waste.”
So your focus is on creating awareness within communities?
“Yes, we target people living in apartments and townhouses, because they often don’t have a patch of backyard to put compost in. Some people think that compost smells, so they don’t really want that inside their houses. Also, people just aren’t always very engaged and we’re trying to change that mind-set and to get people to actually realize it’s not as hard as they think it is. Anyone can do it. With Compost Depot you can find someone that lives around the corner and they’ll compost your waste for you.
The trick is to create awareness and to make it as easy as possible. You just have to get it to them. So there’s an app that was developed by other people, it’s called Sharewaste and it’s basically like ‘A Compost Tinder’. It is like matchmaking for people that have compost facilities and those who have organic waste to donate. We are trying to piggyback on their success and support them.”
Are there other companies and/or projects that you’re working with as well?
“Yes, we partnered up with Reground. They run a collection service for coffee grounds from cafes around Melbourne, they also collect plastics and coffee chaffs from coffee roasters. Melbourne has lots of coffee roasters, at least five in each suburb – so that market is huge.
How big is The Compost Depot at the moment?
“At the moment it’s myself and two staff members. Hopefully we will be able to grow when more funds start coming in. If I can get people trained and do workshops in different languages, that opens up even more of an audience. And then what I would really like to do is online teaching, videos, online quizzes and to actually package the education into something that can be universal, international. “
How did ClimateLaunchpad help you move forward?
“Things we learned during ClimateLaunchpad really helped us focus on what is most important and where to actually start. Getting something done and getting it out there -even if it’s not 100% perfect yet – is better than procrastinating and getting too obsessive over the finer details. Stuff will always change, and we learn from just doing it.”
What are your plans with The Compost Depot, what’s next?
“We have done some market research on how to make our knowledge and The Depot more available and accessible to people. What we’ve found is that smaller groups, one-on-one information and scheduling workshops on weekends would really help. In the future we hope to reach out to multicultural groups and basically ‘train a trainer’ where we get people that speak different languages spread the information to their social groups and networks.”
Check out some more successful start-ups who took part in ClimateLaunchpad in the past years.
One team at the National Final will win a development grant worth $50k from Humanitech, to help them pilot their concept.