Little & Brave – The Story of Composting Nappies
Little & Brave has diverted up to 100 tonnes of organic waste from landfills. Our composting journey has been incredible, hard and rewarding. Read about our first year and how we achieved success.
Launch day – 17th August 2018
Launch day in August 2018 brought a mountain of excitement sales and the enthusiasm of a new sustainable beginning for families in Auckland.
The interest in what we were going to achieve was incredible. New Zealand’s first fully compostable nappy and commercial composting service was launched!
Sales steadily increased through the website. But as we waited in the weeks following the launch for the first nappies to come back, we began to worry. Imagine being excited about receiving a nappy full of poo? This was us, waiting excitedly to receive a used nappy with open arms and an elated smile.
During those first weeks after we launched we were counting the bags on a daily basis. Two on Monday, none on Tuesday, one on Wednesday. Had we made a mistake? Had we got it wrong that other Kiwi families cared enough to make the drive to drop off their nappies for composting?
Eight weeks after our launch, the nappies began to flood into Little & Brave. People who had bought from us had used their old stocks, new babies had been born and earlier purchases were used. Everyone was seeing the benefits of a low allergen, sustainable eco nappy that was kind on bottoms and gentle on the earth. The number of bags in our drop-off bin showed us just how much parents cared about the land they are going to leave their children.
…And that flood of nappies hasn’t stopped.
How we Compost the Nappies
Composting at Little & Brave began in the specially built Commercial Composting wooden units outside, and as volume increased, we moved the main processing and Composting to our large commercial composting ‘in-vessel’ inside.
When we finally had enough volume we combined our first lot of nappies along with food scraps from local commercial kitchens and cafes, green waste and wood chips, most of which would have been destined for landfill. Even in starting our process, we were seeing ways that Little & Brave could go beyond just nappies.
Over the next 3 months, the trial and error began in earnest. Using the New Zealand Composting Standard as our guide, our aim was to achieve a full cycle in under 120 days, and make Auckland’s best compost. Very early on we decided that making compost that would add vital nutrients and carbon back into the soil, was just as important to us as diverting nappies from landfill.
When we hit our first 10 tonnes – we knew – this is something that could change the world!
That hasn’t been easy – creating a “world first” process was never going to be smooth sailing, and we were using a mixture of enclosed hot-composting, and in-vessel technology, to compost a product in volumes that had never been done before. From having to start over from scratch when we realized that we were getting too much moisture, to changing our shredding process, to perfecting our mix of nitrogen and carbon, our process has been changed and refined a dozen times. There were days when there wasn’t a lot to celebrate. This all changed when we finally starting making beautiful compost, day in and day out.
Our process was working. The test results confirmed what we knew. Our compost not only met the standard. Our compost was also rich in micro and macro-nutrients. We had turned nappies, into something useful to land, instead of something that could harm it.
6 Months Later
In 6 months, we had achieved more that we ever thought possible. Though trial and error and the many hiccups that so many new businesses face, we have still managed to produce an amazing end product out of an item that was used by baby’s across Auckland. We had diverted an estimated 30,000kgs of waste from landfill!
Having now Launched across NZ we are now seeing families bringing back their used nappies from areas outside of Auckland which also makes our hearts happy.
Our Nappies ARE amazing, they ARE Compostable, plus they help to create a nutrient dense compost. We really hope that across the country other composting facilities will take on the Little & Brave challenge and make it easier for families to make a sustainable choice.
Where does our Compost go?
The end of life product: Rich nutrient dense compost is being placed under trees in Clevedon, Auckland to lift the soil and add nutrients to the land. It is such a beautiful piece of countryside and we are so proud that our compost will be feeding the trees that help the bees.
One Year Later
One year on we can say that we have diverted up to 100 tonnes of organic waste from landfills. Little & Brave is in many households, we have grown our staff and our compost is going to land remediation, returning much needed carbon back into the soil.
Our first year has both exceeded our expectations, surprised and humbled us. We are so proud to have been recently nominated in the 2019 NZI Sustainable Business Network Awards as a finalist in the “Going Circular” category.
A massive shift is currently taking place with more and more Kiwis taking steps towards being better guardians of Aotearoa.
With more composting facilities opening across the country, working together to create a circular economy and creating compost that will nurture our land is an incredible step forward for all Kiwis.
Thank you for being a part of this journey forward with us!