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Food Loop: A Design-Led Social Enterprise for Localized Composting

Nominated by John Thackara

Cities such as London face three environmental and social challenges. First, biodegradable waste in landfill causes methane, a greenhouse gas 23 times more powerful than carbon dioxide. Second, although about 50 percent of some inner city London boroughs are comprised of flats, many councils struggle to carry out waste separation in any dwelling that is not a single house. And third, about 20,000 people live in temporary accommodation for homeless people - but their social needs are so acute that of the 79 percent who want to return to work, only seven percent of them manage to do so.

FoodLoop is a design-led social enterprise for the localized composting of biodegradable waste on housing estates. It greens housing estates, and transforms unused and often wasted spaces of inner city council housing into rich and flourishing social and agricultural spaces.

The service, which is designed to be staffed by disadvantaged people, creates compost from waste using a specially designed community composting machine, the The Rocket Composter, and provides a door-to-door service from inner-city flats. As well as dealing with waste collection and management, FoodLoop workers will learn gardening and landscaping skills, using the compost to cultivate fruit and vegetable plants on communal areas of the estate.

The first FoodLoop project is up and running on a housing estate in Camden Town in London where the service is currently being run by the East London Community Recycling Partnership. The composter was installed in September, and the team has started food planting.

FoodLoop is available to other local authorities as a blueprinted system for the localized composting of biodegradable waste on housing estates. There are also plans to launch FoodLoop, with its accumulating expertise concerning the development of services for organic waste management, in the Middle East and South East Asia.


John Thackara is the co-director of Doors of Perception, which seeks to bring together grassroots innovators, entrepreneurs, educators, and designers who want to imagine alternative futures - sustainable ones - and take design steps to realize them.


Editor's Note: This piece is part of Worldchanging's Attention Philanthropy campaign. All week long, the Worldchanging Network will be delivering "attention grants" to worthy projects, individuals, resources and more. You can learn more about these gifts of notice and find other entries by clicking here.

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