15 March 2022

Composting for the community: catching up with Capital Scraps

| Patrick Johnson
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Woman in front of compost

Brook composting Autumn leaves at the Haig Park hub. Photo: capital_scraps Instagram.

Since Region Media last spoke to Brook Clinton from Capital Scraps back in 2020, things have been moving and expanding at a pace. A low-emissions option for recycling household kitchen scraps, the kerbside composting group has amassed more volunteers, more community composting hubs and, excitingly, an electric van and trike.

The story started in a backyard in 2019, when Brook’s past as a frustrated scientist informed her focus on composting, through learning about microbiology and biochemistry.

“I was feeling a bit impatient to have an impact and I felt a lag between my research and seeing that direct change happen,” she says.

In community composting, Brook found an ‘ultra-local’ solution to her frustrations. By converting scraps into compost, Capital Scraps turns food waste into a valuable resource to be returned to the earth.

Capital Scraps’ success to date is testament to the evolving values of Canberra’s community – a sign of a city more conscious of the environment, the community and the value of volunteering.

White van painted with composting company logo

A greener van for your scraps. Photo: capital_scraps Instagram.

“People have been really happy to get involved,” Brook says, “but they also feel guilty. Alleviating those mental burdens gives people peace of mind.”

We all have a vague concept of the environmental benefits of composting, but Brook and Capital Scraps look to make that learning easier for people – and it has produced some great results.

“There’s a lot of messaging from governments on how good composting is – but for most people, the process is a bit of a black box,” she says.

Capital Scraps has looked to unearth the secrets of successful composting to Canberrans through education sessions, made possible by volunteer efforts and mini working bees. Since 2020, a decentralised network of five community composting hubs have been established, three of which are on public land including Haig Park – a heritage area.

“They blend so nicely into the environment,” Brook says, “but it’s also about getting the word out and signalling that this is a community effort, loud and proud.”

Woman with pile of dead leaves and a white van

The Capital Scraps electric van in action. Photo: capital_scraps Instagram.

Looking forward, Capital Scraps has opportunities to grow from its grassroots, attracting investors looking to have a positive climate impact and talking regularly with projects from other cities through a supportive network.

“There are options for communities committed to sustainable social enterprise, but we’re still under-resourced,” Brook says. “There’s still so much more we could do.”

But Brook believes expanding Capital Scraps’ scope is ultimately a viable option – businesses are starting to learn the value of having an organisation take care of their composting. For Canberra’s fastest growing community composters, the barrier is getting the word out.

Keep an eye out for Capital Scraps’ new van and branding as it services households and businesses around the Inner North. You can follow Capital Scraps on Instagram or read more about their work (and volunteer) via their website.

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