Maropeng introduces Bokashi recycling process

  • September 25, 2013

Pictured at the Bokashi drums at Maropeng are (left) Levy Modise, Maropeng handyman and (right) Robere Brockman, maintenance manager at Maropeng.

Maropeng has embarked on an exciting new recycling initiative: Bokashi.

Bokashi is an anaerobic fermentation and composting process that diverts food waste from landfill and upcycles it into a high-value nutrient feed for gardening and agriculture.

Unlike more conventional composting systems, the Bokashi process breaks down “heavier items” such meat, fish and cheese, quickly.

The process saves 435kg of CO2 emissions when compared to dumping into landfill.

Maropeng currently uses the recycled material to feed its gardens and is assisting the nearby Maloney’s Eye School with feed for its vegetable gardens.

“We hope to grow the Bokashi recycling initiative to supply feed to those vegetable farmers in the area who supply us with fresh produce,” says Robere Brockman, Maropeng’s maintenance manager.

Q&A with Robere Brockman, Maropeng’s maintenance manager

What made you decide on this type of recycling solution for Maropeng?

Four months ago we met with a representative from Pro-Biotic, who took us through the Bokashi process. We looked at pricing and where we could, set up the drums and got the process under way. We have had a number of meetings with Pro-Biotic, for training as well as advice. We decided on this type of recycling as it meets Maropeng’s needs and can assist the surrounding community in a sustainable manner.

Please describe the Bokashi recycling set-up at Maropeng.

We have 15 Bokashi drums that are rotated between various venues at Maropeng and the Sterkfontein Caves. We didn’t need to build anything special, we merely brought the drums in. Before installing the Bokashi system at Maropeng, food waste and organic landscape matter was going to landfill. This has now changed.

Please explain the recycling process step by step.

Bokashi is a fermentation and composting process. Food waste is layered with bokashi in anaerobic digesters (closed bins). The bokashi then kick-starts a fermentation process, which stops rotting and eliminates the production of greenhouse gases. Once fermentation is complete (which takes around two weeks), the fermented matrix or recycled material can then be safely composted, trenched or fed to composting worms.

A key advantage of the bokashi system is that all food waste, including cooked and uncooked food such as meat, bones, seafood and dairy, can be processed and quickly composted, safely and without odours.

Bokashi turns food waste into an organic resource. What is this used for?

Maropeng currently uses the recycled material to feed its gardens and is assisting Maloney’s Eye School with feed for its vegetable gardens.

Does the system require daily maintenance?

In terms of maintenance, the only requirement is physical assistance in moving the drums. The drums are heavy when full and need to be carried to Maropeng’s storage area while the food waste is broken down. Then they need to be transported to the compost heap.

Once the process is complete and the recycled material has been emptied out, the drums need to be washed out.

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