Quality Compost

15/12/2005
16 December 2005

Compost users will soon be able to buy top-quality compost that complies with the new New Zealand Standard for Composts, Soil Conditioners and Mulches (NZS 4454:2005).

The Standard was launched today by industry, together with Standards NZ, the Ministry for the Environment and Waste Management Institute New Zealand (Waste MINZ). It provides clear guidance to commercial producers of compost on how to process organic materials into compost in a safe and effective way.

Barry Carbon, Chief Executive of the Ministry for the Environment, commended industry for taking the lead in developing the Standard: "Industry came to us for support, which we were more than happy to give. This Standard provides consumers with a quality product that is safer for their health and better for the environment.”

A growing number of people recognise the benefits of using compost in a commercial environment. Because composts vary greatly in quality, industry, including horticultural retailers and landscapers, wanted to provide guarantees for customers. Now consumers can be assured that compost that complies with the Standard has had similar checks and balances to other agricultural soil products. 

Tim Williams, President of the Landscape Industries Association of New Zealand (LIANZ), says quality compost is excellent for business. “Our members focus on quality. Having the Standard will be very important to the industry, as it makes it a lot easier for them to deliver a quality product to their clients.”

Brian Gallagher, Chair of the Committee that developed the Standard, says the Standard also sets a benchmark to ensure that organic material diverted from landfill is put to a good use.

“Right now, a significant 30 to 40 percent of our landfill in New Zealand is made up of recyclable organic material. We can reduce the burden on landfills, and use this organic material beneficially. The Standard is an excellent guide to make sure producers and consumers have the certainty of a good quality product,” says Mr Gallagher.

The Standard will be used by local councils, and producers, distributors and users of composts, mulches, and soil conditioners. It prescribes compositional and compliance requirements, sampling and testing methods. The Standard also includes bag labelling requirements, promoting safe and healthy gardening practices.

Similar Standards have been created worldwide. This Standard is based on the equivalent Australian Standard, AS 4454-2004 Composts, soil conditioners and mulches, with modifications to suit New Zealand requirements.

Copies of the Standard are available for purchase on-line: www.standards.co.nz or call: 0800 782 632

Media contact: Zoe Priestley, SNZ 04 498 3986 or 021 475 945 zoe.priestley@standards.co.nz

BACKGROUND

The Standard was sponsored by WasteMINZ, and the committee that developed the Standards involved the following representatives:

Neil Barton Federated Farmers of New Zealand
Andy Black Bio Dynamic Farming and Gardening Association
George Fietje Living Earth
Brian Gallagher Timaru District Council
Dave Hanan Delta Utilities Ltd, South Island Organic Recycling Training Group
Chris Keenan Ministry for the Environment
Margaret Leonard Institute of Environmental and Scientific Research Ltd. on behalf of the Ministry of Health
Mike Lord Perry Environmental Ltd.
Ian Mason University of Canterbury
Patricia Naidu New Zealand Earthworm Association
Miljenko Pavlinic HG Leach & Co. Ltd.
Cherryle Prew Soil Foodweb Institute
Craig Ross Landcare Research
Bruce Smith Yates New Zealand Ltd
Michael Spiers HortResearch