Damers First School recycle their food waste by composting on site in Poundbury, Dorset.

Poundbury food waste composting with Ridan

Damers First School, Poundbury, Dorset installed a Ridan Pro 400 food waste composter food waste composting system in the spring of 2018 in order to recycle all of their food waste on site.

Turning their Ridan together

Edd Moore (Eco Coordinator) said the following

“The Ridan is going really well, we have now used two maturation boxes of compost on the garden and in some large new planters which we have bought for the school.
Richard Dunne from Ashley Primary School visited the school a few weeks ago and checked up on our Ridan. We are doing some work with him this year with his Harmony Curriculum. Something we are starting to embed within our school.”
Damers First School Ridan Food Waste Composter

Edd also completed this Q and A for us –

What stimulated you to look at recycling your food waste?
The school had so much fruit waste going into the school garden composts  causing them to overflow and take a long time to compost down. This  attracted rats into the school grounds. Our general food waste had a cost implication to have it  taken away and disposed of, this caused the school to have a rethink about how we could save some money but also recycle what we use on site and reduce carbon.

How much food waste is composted? What type of food waste, fruit, raw, cooked, meat etc…
All food waste from lunchtime such as hot lunch leftyovers,  remains from school lunch boxes, fruit snacks are composted in our Ridan. No Food waste is picked up by the County Council. Fruit waste and cooked food including meat makes up the majority of our food waste from 450 children.

Who operates the Ridan and how much time does it take?
A Year 3 class has taken on the responsibility of operating the Ridan. There is a team of 6 children who go round the school at lunchtime collecting compost caddies from foundation to Year 3 classes which they empty  into the Ridan. This will change every term to give every child in Year 3 who would like a turn, to have a go at operating the Ridan. The Year 4 classes do their own composting as they wanted to take responsibility for themselves. It takes the children 15 – 20 minutes to go to the 15 classes around the school.

How are the children involved?
When we got the Ridan each class was given a lesson on how to use it as well as how fruit waste turned into compost from Mr Moore.

Is the composter used as part of the students education?
The children learn the importance of cycles of nature and that they are all around us. So what they grow in the garden will be eaten by them and then any waste will be put into the Ridan and made into compost to help the plants in our garden grow again and again.

Who paid for the Ridan?
The Ridan was paid for by an Auction of Promises organised by the PTA for the whole of the local community. Local businesses donated goods or services.

Does it save the school any expense for waste collection or compost purchase?
It has cut out the use of plastic bags and biodegradable bags that take a while to decompose. This is brilliant as we are a Plastic Free School (Single Use).

Since having the Ridan no food waste has been collected by the Dorset Waste Partnership and we are looking to cancel our food waste contract which will save the school £500. We haven’t had to buy in any compost either. We have found the compost from our Ridan has helped to give the fruit and vegetable plants more nutrients which has made  the plants grow quicker and stronger. We have had a huge success with our fruit bushes which are growing in compost from our Ridan.

What do you like and dislike about the Ridan, have there been any problems?
We learned the hard way when allowing each class to use the Ridan to put their food waste in. We wanted every child to have a opportunity of using the Ridan but this did not work.  It caused the Ridan to overflow above the working line and sadly break. Dan was fantastic and came out and fixed the Ridan. From then we had a team of 6  older children who were trained up over 2 weeks and then left to run the Ridan on their own.
Some foods take abit longer to compost like sweetcorn, oranges and apples. We have solved this issue by cutting up these items into smaller pieces.
We think it would be great to have a hatch on the front of the compost containers so then you can lift up the hatch to get the good compost out of the bottom when ready leaving the top compost to carry on composting.

Where did you hear about Ridan?
I heard about the Ridan from Ashley Primary School in Walton Upon Thames while looking on their website during the Summer Holidays 2017. I also visited their school in December 2017 and spoke to Richard Dunne, Headteacher. Since our school has been working with Richard on embedding the Harmony Curriculum into our school.

Do you use your compost on site somewhere?
The Ridan is used in the school grounds and is accessible to children and staff. Children know not to play or use the Ridan unless it is their responsibility. The compost is used in the beds in the school gardens.

 Has the school embraced other carbon reducing initiatives?
The school has solar panels as well as LED lighting. On a sunny day all the energy in the school is being supplied by the solar panels.  The lights have special sensors that turn the lights on or off when someone is in the room or not.  60% of our children come to school by scooter or bike. Adults are encouraged too with a bike rack outside school. As I said earlier, Damers is a plastic free school – single use.


Poundbury is an urban extension to the Dorset county town of Dorchester, built on the principles of architecture and urban planning as advocated by The Prince of Wales in ‘A Vision of Britain’.