Bundaberg’s sweet potatoes grow with the help of your coffee cup!

If you’ve bought a sweet potato from an Australian supermarket recently, there’s a fair chance it will be a proud product of Bundaberg. Our region grows over 70% of Australia’s sweet potato supply. Always in season and harvested 52 weeks of the year, sweet potatoes are a hardworking crop so growers are always on the lookout for innovative ways to replenish the soils they grow in. One of the country’s biggest growers, Greensill Farming, has opened a new composting facility that turns your takeaway coffee cup into rich compost that helps grow their sweet potato crop.

Keeping beaches clean by composting coffee cups

It was an opportunity that Taylor McMahon from Endup Cups had been waiting for. His local Bundaberg business supplies plant-based compostable coffee cups to local cafe owners, as well as collection and composting through Green Solutions Wide Bay. “There’s no one from Sydney to North Queensland that does this as a free service and now with Green Solutions Wide Bay on our doorstep we can do it,” he says. So thanks to this new facility, coffee cups can be composted locally and contribute to the environment rather than detracting from it.

Joey Caruana operates the new Beach Mill coffee bar right on Bargara’s beautiful beach as well as the award-winning cafe in the heart of town. He  jumped at the chance to offer patrons coffees in locally-made, compostable cups. He says a local composting facility has huge benefits for local beaches and patrons enjoy knowing that by disposing of the cups correctly they are giving back to the Bundaberg region. “Those cups go straight from us less than 1.2kms up the road to Green Solutions Wide Bay, who turn it into compost. Then we buy sweet potatoes from them and feed those to people in our cafe,” he says. It’s a neat little local food loop. Between his two businesses Joey has composted 83,000 cups in the last seven months with no sign of stopping.

Benefiting the local community

Greensill Farming have a long history in Bundaberg. The family started growing sugar cane here in 1945. After seeing an open-windrow composting facility at work during a research trip to the USA, Peter Greensill was determined to bring the idea back to his hometown. He put in almost a decade of hard work and planning before Green Solutions Wide Bay opened in March 2021. The facility has been operating non-stop since it opened, taking 120 days to turn waste into rich organic compost. “From the get-go, it's very positive,” says Peter. “It helps us create healthy soil biodiversity on the farm by replacing organic matter and increasing the microorganisms in the soil.”

The purpose-built facility doesn’t just compost coffee cups. It takes green waste of any kind, which means that locals can dispose of their garden waste at the facility free of charge. Although the rules for what Green Solutions accept are strict in order to avoid contamination, they do take green waste including palm fronds that can be costly to dispose of in council facilities, which is great for locals. “All they need to do is come and drop it off at our site. Then we turn it into organic compost, and put it back onto the farm. It reduces the carbon and helps us in our commitment to sustainability and farming for the future.”

Compostable coffee cups are available at select cafes in Bundaberg. Dispose of them at the bright green and orange compostable collection stations to make sure they help fertilise Bundaberg’s sweet potato crops!

Get your compostable coffee at The Windmill Cafe Bargara, The Beach Mill, Espresso Loca, Oodies Cafe, Reds for Coffee and a growing number of cafes in our region.