The Escarpment Groups ‘Hydro Majestic Hotel’ at Medlow Bath has entered a new phase of sustainability with five direct injection compost units, or ‘Macerators’ to be installed at the Hydro Majestic, Lilianfels Resort & Spa and Echoes Boutique Hotel this month to manage the vast amount of organic waste produced.

The macerator grinds up all kitchen food waste and pumps it into a tank that is electronically monitored.  When approaching full capacity, notification is received by the service company and a truck takes the reduced contents to an organic ‘pulp’ to an EPA approved broad acre farm to be ‘directly’ injected onto a paddock

The Hydro Majestic produces 1.5 tonnes of food waste weekly. A national hospitality sector food waste study estimates 40% of restaurant and hotel food ends up in landfill annually. Escarpment Group’s Chief Engineer, Peter Redman, has spent 7 years researching sustainability options to lower the Group’s large amount of food waste, to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The decision was prompted by a $127,000 NSW government’s Bin Trim Business Grant, to invest in direct injection units for their commercial kitchens at a total cost of $300,000.  “Considering we spend $311 per tonne sending food waste to landfill, and produce two to three tonnes of food waste across Lilianfels, Echoes and the Hydro Majestic Hotels, the gross savings amount to $75,000 a year.  The investment will be recuperated in two years, the venture is commercially and environmentally viable and sets a precedent’. says Peter.

Also moving towards low carbon operations, Blue Mountains City Council’s Carbon Abatement Action will identify “carbon hotspots” within Council operations, and develop and fund projects to reduce carbon emissions in those areas. Council’s introduced green bin service and ongoing education and capacity building programs have reduced domestic organic waste going to landfill.

Business organic waste to landfill remains an issue. Council is supporting and promoting the NSW EPAs highly successful Bin Trim program for businesses interested in reducing carbon emissions due to waste going to landfill go to: http://www.epa.nsw.gov.au/resources/managewaste/120792-bin-trim.pdf

One Escarpment Group long-term goal is to develop their Parklands’ 3000sqm kitchen garden to fully supply all four local properties. Another goal is to invest in solar energy. General Manager, Ralf Bruegger, explains that design, durability and investment return are all factors being considered.  Hydro Majestic’s current energy provider is Origin Energy. “The hotels’ energy consumption is predominantly during off-peak times (night and weekends) so gas and electricity bills are not exorbitant”,

Ralf argues that “it is important to meet our guests’ expectations of a luxurious experience, but also be conscientious of our carbon footprint”. Ralf is confident guests are aware of what can be achieved without lowering standards or compromising on comfort.

Katoomba’s Shelton-Lea Bed & Breakfast’s owners, Jenny and Paul McLaughlin, manage four self-contained private suites at their classic Blue Mountains bungalow. They are Gold rated LCL members  with solar panels, a water tank, LED light bulbs, waste recycling, energy-efficient fridges and appliances, separately zoned central heating, environmentally-friendly toiletries in the bathrooms, free-range meat, eggs and local produce-sourced breakfasts, worm farming and composting.  They have a TripAdvisor ‘Green Leaders’ Platinum level distinction.

Jenny and Paul began worm farming four years ago with two worm farms shaded at the rear of the property. Worm farms can consume large quantities of food waste and  produce copious amounts of ‘worm tea’ and castings, an ideal nutrient-rich garden fertiliser. “The worms came with the starter kits and we have thousands of worms now”, says Jenny. They are fed food scraps from the B&B with the exception of meat, citrus and eggshells.

The worm tea is collected through a tap at the bottom of the worm farm, and diluted before use in the garden. The castings are emptied from the bottom shelves and  used directly. Jenny estimates (16 litres) of liquid and 2 shelves of castings are produced monthly. Wet weather producing less-concentrated worm tea and high temperatures slow the worms’ consumption.

Composting leaves and garden clippings is part of daily life at Shelton-Lea, with dual compost tumblers and garden bags for storage. Two to three cubic metres of compost is produced monthly and used as mulch throughout the garden.

Shelton-Lea’s roof supports a 2.5kW solar energy system installed by Springwood Solar Connection, and supplemented AGL energy.  Monthly electricity averages $200 and gas  $185. Installing a smart metre has prompted Jenny and Paul to source green energy where possible, particularly with the loss of their solar rebate. Future sustainable investments include suite ceiling fans and solar storage batteries

Jenny and Paul’s proactive carbon footprint reduction efforts are encouraging for guests. “We always receive a positive response from those that appreciate and recognise our efforts”, says Jenny.  Sometimes, it’s the small and everyday steps that make the difference.