Glass shards found in garden compost

LOCAL man is calling on Gippsland Water’s recycling facility at Dutson Downs to recall its Revive recycled garden compost, after finding large pieces of sharp, jagged glass scattered throughout the material.

Graham Smit was spreading the compost as top dressing on his Honeysuckles lawn two weeks ago when he noticed that “more than a handful” of glass was lying on the surface.

When he spoke to the supplier, he was told that they too had complained about the product but were told it was screened “within acceptable safety levels” of five millimetres.

The keen gardener was even more horrified when he again discovered large pieces of glass in a second one-cubic metre of Revive compost he purchased on Saturday.

“This time I photographed the glass that I picked up on the surface after watering the compost in,” he said.

Mr Smit said the glass fragments were up to 2.5 centimetres, and many were “dangerously” sharp.

“This is only what was lying on the top, not what can obviously not be seen below,” he said.

Mr Smit said he had been buying the otherwise “excellent” recycled product for the garden of his Honeysuckles holiday home for about two years, but had only noticed the extent of the glass when he starting using it as thin top dressing for a new lawn.

“As can be seen, they are nasty jaggered pieces, just waiting to do someone some serious damage,” he said.

“I’d hate someone with children to put it somewhere that they play.

“So, my question is, what is an acceptable level, how many times do your kids or anyone for that fact, need to cut themselves to be an ‘acceptable level’?

“I can tell you, that I will not be using any more of this deadly material.

“I believe this is extremely dangerous and it should be withdrawn from the market until it gets sorted, or at the very least, it needs to be sold with a warning.”

Revive compost is manufactured at Gippsland Water’s Soil and Organic Recycling Facility at Dutson Downs, and distributed by a local company.

The Dutson Downs facility accepts and treats EPA prescribed and non-prescribed wastes, most of which are used as part of its composting process.

It produces about 1000 tonnes of Revive recycled compost per week, and the website states that this is expected “to rise as demand increases”.

SORF business manager Michael Clamp said Revive Recycled Compost was sold primarily for broad acre farming. He said the product was built with quality control in place, which complied with the Australian Standard (AS4454) for Composts, Soil Conditioner and Mulches, and every batch sold to the distributor had a compliance certificate and was independently audited before the product left the site.

Mr Clamp said the recycling system “has its challenges”, and the SORF was continually working to improve the end product by investing in new technology to remove plastics and glass, as well as provide an innovative and environmentally sustainable alternative to landfill.

“We care about the community and about what happens to our product after it leaves our facility, and we continually review the quality assurances in place along the supply chain,” he said.

“Raising awareness in the community about correctly separating recyclables is vital to eliminate bottles or plastics in the household green waste bin which can end up in the compost.”

Mr Clamp said customer and community feedback was taken seriously, and he had contacted the person who made the complaint to address his concerns.

“(The distributor) provides the option of an additional level of screening to five millimetres targeted at removing physical contaminants including glass,” he said.

“This is not a requirement of the Australian standard but is often chosen by local nurseries who then sell it to residential customers.”

“The compost is made from kerbside green waste, the majority of contaminants are removed at the transfer station.

“The green waste is broken down over 14 weeks and is screened during the process, the finest at 15mm in order to meet the Australian standard.”

The SORF website states that it has sold more than 500,000 tonnes of recycled compost for each of the past four years and transforms 200,000 tonnes of waste annually into a beneficial product that previously ended in landfill.

Mr Clamp said he would like to make sure everyone who used the product was safe and understood where the compost came from, and customers should feel free to contact the SORF to further understand the process.