Going Green – Thinking Outside the (Composting) Box

Transition Southampton Goes Green

Our world is changing. We’re now seeing a passion for ‘doing our part’ to save the environment like we’ve never seen before – and one group in Southampton is going above and beyond for their little patch of Earth.

Part of the national Transitions movement, Transition Southampton seeks to make its city a greener, happier version of itself. Part of this goal is a keen focus on gardening and composting – including how to do it better and send less food waste to the country’s landfill sites.

The Challenge

Southampton’s composters are plagued by rats, who constantly chew through their traditional composting bins. Two Transitions volunteers sought a solution that would not only be proof against pesky rodents but could also hold a variety of compostable materials.

A project was formed. Engineer Adrian Pickering, working with his biologist colleague formulated an objective: create or improve the existing compost bins to make them ‘rat proof’ – coupled with a design that could eventually enter the public sphere in a retail-friendly, flat-pack format.

Proof of Concept  Compositing box by Transition Southampton created using Liniar uPVC piling

With former knowledge of a product that used a system of interlocking slats to create a drum shape, Adrian went in search of something similar for the composting bits – leading to the Liniar PVCu piling system. “I had no doubt that the recycled PVCu material was robust enough to keep the rats out. The question was whether or not the system could be used to make something as small as a compost bin,” Adrian comments.

“I began by contacting the Liniar Design team for technical drawings of the piling system. Using those, I did a test to find the maximum angle that could be achieved between one flat pile component and another. The test proved that a hexagonal structure could be achieved using both flat and corner piling components,” Adrian confirms.

With that idea in mind, Adrian placed an order for enough Liniar piling to build the concept product – a 300 litre, 1m high compost bin. There was enough to build three prototypes, and once made, the benefits were immediately visible.

“One of the best features was that any of the six sides of the prototype can be slid up to access the contents of the compost at its base. In addition, with greater than 6mm thick walls, the insulation provided for the contents of the compost bin means they are more protected during the winter,” comments Adrian.

Field Tests  DIY grey composting box created using Liniar's uPVC piling components

Producing a ‘proof of concept’ for a product that has never before been actualised is a work in progress. The three prototypes are currently in their field-testing stage, but the results so far look promising.

“Field testing for the prototype is looking to prove ease of construction and whether any of the corner components actually need to be piled for support. We’re also looking at usability as composting materials are added or removed, defence against rat incursion and the composting performance inside the prototype during cold weather,” Adrian says.

“A more lengthy challenge has been to achieve a lid design using Liniar components. We believe we have a viable design, it’s currently undergoing testing and the results will come in the next few months,” Adrian tells us.

While field tests are ongoing, Adrian gives us his thoughts on the project so far, and why he chose Liniar specifically for this project:

“Liniar’s PVCu piling has the right weight, thickness and smoothness with an excellent rating for long-term outdoor exposure. For a ‘green’ project such as this, being made using recycled PVCu and being fully recyclable is particularly appropriate and with the cost-effectiveness of Liniar piling, the bins are likely to be viable products.

“This product is ideal for any type of temporary or permanent containment in horticulture or landscaping. Apart from the obvious, it’s ideal for raised beds, water tanks, pools and ponds – though we’d love to see it in additional colours.

“Liniar’s unique piling components just hit the sweet spot for this novel horticulture application.”

The Future

The future for the Transitions project looks bright and the Liniar team are hoping that it inspires other businesses and even homeowners to think outside the box when it comes to using its products.

This story isn’t over, so watch this space. Liniar will be following the project closely as the field testing comes to an end and Adrian and Kevin release the results of those tests.



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