Sustainable Coastlines Hawai'i logo


2021, 2022


Oahu, HI

Sustainable Coastlines Hawai’i

Innovative Solution for Community-Scale Composting in Hawai’i

Composting food scraps benefits our ocean, and our climate by reducing greenhouse gas emissions and improving water quality by building healthy soil. Increasingly, coastal communities are creating composting programs to encourage residents, businesses, and events to adopt this sustainable practice. Healthy soils also allow for more local food production and in turn reduce the amount of imported, plastic-wrapped food that needs to be shipped to island communities like Hawai’i. Building upon a decade of coastal cleanups, community engagement, and education work, Sustainable Coastlines Hawai‘i (SCH) knows the importance of soil health for ocean health and in 2021 will expand its role to further small-scale composting initiatives in Oahu, Hawai‘i.

In 2020, SCH brought the first in-vessel composting system, a repurposed 20 foot-long container composting technology, from Green Mountain Technologies to Hawai‘i and installed it on a local farm. The in-vessel composting system works to process up to 1,000 pounds of food waste per day, and create a soil amendment in 2-3 weeks, compared to the many months it takes for traditional composting facilities to process the waste. These systems are fully contained, which avoids any smell or animal issues. This enables them to be placed within urban centers, at schools, or small farms supporting locally-based composting programs which allows all the benefits of composting to be retained within a community. The system also helps to prevent food scraps and other compostable materials from being discarded into the waste to energy incinerator, which is currently the main practice in Hawai’i.

The compost generated by this system is applied directly to the farm fields or given away to the local community to showcase the benefits of turning food scraps into natural soil fertilizer. Sustainable Coastlines Hawai’i is also creating an education program to teach students and the public about the links between soil and ocean health.

  • Increase Oahu’s capacity to process organic food waste into compost at a local farm using an in-vessel composting system.
  • Build out the educational curriculum surrounding the composting machine, highlighting that local food production can help limit the impact of imported plastic.
  • Expand the composting network to do food waste pickups from local restaurants and grocery stores, while also sourcing tree trimmings and mulch from community members in the vicinity of the farm.
  • Collect scientific data to determine the toxicity thresholds of compostable alternatives to plastic, and to inform the potential larger-scale roll-out of these in-vessel composting systems.
  • Share results with the department of health and policymakers, showcasing that composting can be done safely, help with carbon mitigation goals, and provide economic opportunity to farmers.
About Sustainable Coastlines Hawai’i

Sustainable Coastlines Hawai’i is a grassroots, nonprofit organization run by a small team of dedicated staff and supported by passionate volunteers, just like you! It inspires local communities to care for their coastlines through fun, hands-on beach cleanups. It also coordinates educational programs, team building corporate cleanups, waste diversion services, public awareness campaigns and we help others organize their own beach cleanups.

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