The Independent Schools Foundation Academy

Sector: Education
Equipment: A900 Rocket Composter and Dehydra Dewaterer

The backstory

The Independent Schools Foundation (ISF) Academy is a not-for-profit, private independent school situated in Hong Kong – offering bilingual education for students living in Hong Kong.

ISF prides itself on providing the Shuyuan programme, which creates an experiential learning environment. The Shuyuan team is passionate about not only employing sustainable practices – from resource management to alternative energy – but teaching the students “to live sustainably and be informed conservationists.”

As a result, the Shuyuan team is regularly launching new projects that help to promote awareness of sustainability and circular-economy thinking. The ‘Green Guardians’ scheme is a prime example of this – seeing a student-led club promoting an environmentally friendly learning environment and planning activities to help reduce their carbon footprint, improve recycling, and conserve energy.

The challenge

With a major focus on sustainability and helping the planet, ISF sought an eco-friendly solution that would help it to firstly reduce, then compost the 27 tonnes of food waste the Academy generates per year.

The ISF Academy contrasts sharply with Hong Kong. Around one third of Hong Kong’s solid waste is food, and the vast majority of this is combined with general waste and dumped into landfills. While lack of space is common in such urban environments, Hong Kong is now facing a serious issue because its landfills are close to capacity.

The Shuyuan team wanted to monitor and minimise the overall food waste the Academy produces, as well as convert the collected food waste into a valuable compost resource. The compost is used both in the school’s rooftop farm as well as a tool for empowering a number of student-led science projects.

The solution

Tidy Planet and its Hong Kong partners, Safe Composting Technology and Teng Hoi, worked together to discuss the requirements, and an A900 Rocket Composter and Dehydra Dewaterer were prescribed as the solution for ISF.

The food waste dewatering system macerates the input material – cutting its volume by up to 80% and weight by up to 50%, by separating the solid material from the water content. The resulting feedstock is then composted by the A900 into a nutritious output that’s used to grow plants and fresh produce in the school’s rooftop gardens. Repeated lab tests of the compost have shown that it meets organic standards for mature compost as soon as it exits the A900.

This on-site dewatering and in-vessel composting system not only equips the institution with the tools to close the food waste loop, but it enables ISF to measure its wastage levels, and reduce its carbon footprint – by contracting the number of waste collection vehicle movements needed.

In addition, with plastic waste occupying a considerable proportion of Hong Kong’s landfill sites, ISF has been conducting cutting-edge scientific research with its in-vessel system – comparing and evaluating how compostable different types of biodegradable plastic are.

As a result, the school has now uncovered which plastic it can dispose of along with its food waste, and convert into a horticultural resource – diverting this material away from landfill and preventing it from being exported for overseas processing.

Finally, experiential learning is also enhanced by the on-site composting method, as students can see first-hand the effects of their decisions as consumers – encouraging them to make more informed, and sustainable choices in their daily lives and provide an example of on-site waste reduction in a dense urban environment.