Organic waste becomes currency for We Compost Weekend

Every year, the equivalent of 1,866,664 trailer loads full of organic waste are sent unnecessarily to the landfill in Auckland, a mass so huge that it costs taxpayers approximately $77 million per year to dispose of it.

So, in a bid to remind Aucklanders about the problem of food waste while simultaneously encouraging them to consider composting, We Compost (a network of New Zealand businesses committed to reducing and recycling organic waste) has launched a campaign via DDB and with support from Auckland Council that will on 6 and 7 September enable Aucklanders to trade their food waste for a variety of treats.   

As part of the campaign, Aucklanders will be able to exchange a bag of food scraps for goods such as coffee beans, muffins and t-shirts. 

More than 40 local businesses have come on-board in support of the event, with Kokako café, fashion label Sitka, Little Bird Organics café and Ponsonby Central. 

The campaign has been brought to life through the involvement of DDB, who partnered with Steve Rickerby, the managing director of We Compost, to initiate the project. Together, DDB and Rickerby developed tool kits for each of the participating businesses. And in addition to this, the campaign also includes six illustrations (three commissioned by DDB artists and another three by Auckland-based illustrators), which have been used for promotional posters for the compostable We Compost Weekend bags.

Rickerby says that the crux of the campaign is to attach a value to organic waste, so that consumers start seeing it as something that shouldn’t simply be discarded.

“The We Compost Weekend, in association with our clients, is an opportunity to encourage Aucklanders to think about their food scraps not as waste but rather as something of value that can be traded,” he says. “We hope that by attaching a value to the waste for this weekend, the public will always think twice before binning their food scraps. It’s a small step in our aim to help save the planet – one banana peel, apple core and coffee grind at a time.”

He also says that organic waste is in fact a valuable substance, which if processed correctly can be used to improve soil. 

“Organic waste is not waste at all. In fact, it can be turned into a useful resource by composting,” he says. “Our business provides a collection service for businesses that are unable to compost on-site so it can be recovered for beneficial reuse as a high quality, natural soil amendment … … The loss of topsoil for any country has huge environmental and economical implications and when I arrived back in New Zealand, I realised there was increased awareness  and education about recycling but still not enough about organic waste so I decided to devote my time to change this.” 

With 1.4 million tonnes of waste sent to landfill every year, Auckland Council is also focused on getting this region’s rubbish sorted—and solid waste manager Ian Stupple has applauded the campaign for redefining organic waste. 

“This project is a great example of the kind of innovation we want to support, to ensure people are being educated about reducing their waste, and even rewarded for doing the right thing,” says Stupple

Internationally, the problem of food waste has also attracted the interest of governments and creative agencies. In 2014,  the European Union declared 2014 as the year against food waste, and Paris-based creative agency Marcel Paris latched onto this to release an Intermarché campaign called les fruits et légumes moches, or the inglorious fruits and vegetables.

Rather than only selling sexy, perfectly formed fruits and vegetables, Marcel Paris dedicated an entire aisle to ‘ugly produce’ that was traditionally considered too unappealing to sell. Consumers were given a 30 percent lower price point than that of standard fruits and veggies, and the rejects were even given their own line of vegetable soups and fruit juices.

And given that the fruit and veggie aisles of Countdown, Pak ‘n Save and New World don’t feature any items that resemble the inglorious fruits and vegetables, it seems likely that the same policy is being employed here.   


We Compost

Steve Rickerby – Managing Director


Damon Stapleton – Chief Creative Officer
Shane Bradnick – Executive Creative Director
Liz Richards – Creative
Nicholas Dellabarca – Creative
Jake Barnes – Creative
Sasha Arendelovic – Creative
Kevin Bachtiar – Creative
Jim Pachal – Digital designer
Rachel Turner – Senior Account Director
Maria Bjorkman/Melanie Cutfield – Senior Account Manager
Genevieve Rogers – Account Executive
Craig McLeod – Planner
Michiel Cox – Digital Planner
Andy Robilliard – Print Producer
Kate Moses – TV Producer
Mark Tretheway – Editor

Mango PR

Sean Brown – Group Account Director
Eleisha Balmer – Senior Account Manager

Other credits

Hugo Smith – Illustration
Chris Hutchinson –Illustration
Supercrafti – Illustration
Toby Morris – Illustration
Jim Pachal – Illustration
Ashleigh Yates – Typography

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