Pae Cycle: one year on

Pae Cycle recently celebrated one year of unresounding success! Susie Pegler takes us on their compost-making goodness journey.

Photo: Bob Zuur

The vision: Turning food scraps into soil into nutritious food….Closing the circle.

Tell me, have you happened to notice the white buckets, every so often sitting ostensibly randomly by the roadside round and about Paekākāriki? Perhaps you have seen the bicycle with custom-built trailer that slips past noiselessly twice a week, marking a circuitous route through the village streets. On Tuesdays, this contraption diligently collects the white buckets perched patiently on the footpath. And on Thursdays, it can be seen parked outside the three businesses on the south side of Beach Road. 

Kate Sanders. Photo: Doris Zuur

This is Pae Cycle – a homegrown initiative that each week repurposes up to 100kg of food waste into valuable compost. Food waste that, one guesses, would otherwise be dumped in a landfill.

We spoke to members of the Pae Cycle team to find out more about the service.

Pae Cycle was developed by members of the Paekākāriki Orchard and Gardens (POG) group, and inspired by the Kaicycle initiative in Newtown, Wellington ( Other essential ingredients behind PaeCycle’s instigation were the readiness and enthusiasm of local households to get on board, and seed funding from a Kāpiti Coast District Council waste minimisation grant. The original concept was trialed and refined and now one year and five large compost bins later, Pae Cycle is a resounding success.

It hasn’t all been a smooth ride however – there were challenges along the way, the main one being predator management. Rats and mice love food scraps! Paecycle has taken the task of preventing a rat population explosion very seriously, taking advice from experts as the system developed. The largest bins containing the freshest, most alluring food scraps are well sealed with wire mesh along the ground. This keeps rats out but the smell is enticing and so the bins are surrounded by our own locally devised and fabricated village traps. These are maintained and checked regularly and catch a pretty consistent two or three mice a week. There is to date no evidence of mice in the bins. A closer collaboration with Predator Free Paekākāriki is intended in the future.

Doris Zuur. Photo: Kate Sanders

E-bike riders, Rohan Hutchison and Kate Sanders share the collection work between them, one doing households and the other doing businesses. It takes about two hours to complete the circuit around the village. Inclement weather can mean that a vehicle is sometimes needed to complete the transporting of the scraps. This makes the job shorter but the team tends to feel this undermines the ethos of environmental awareness that is a hallmark of the service.

The ongoing cost of running Pae Cycle is covered by monthly subscriptions – at this stage about 20 households and three businesses. After the initial outlay of $25 for the collection bucket, the system runs by koha. Most people pay around $10 – $30 a month. 

Photo: Doris Zuur

PaeCycle lead Doris Zuur says there are few limits to expansion. “The more scraps, the more compost, the more fruit and vegetables we can plant in the community gardens.”

“As the food scraps break down, the bins need turning from one bin to another to another and so on. We’ve discovered the design of bin that works best for our needs and now we have five bins.

“We have plenty of room for more bins and warmly invite more subscriptions, so perhaps the only limiting factor is the energy of the volunteer POG gardeners to process the compost. 

“Anyone can join – we can handle it,” she says.

Doris Zuur. Photo: Kate Sanders

As for the vision that started it all, Doris and team say we’ll see the circle truly close when they are able to share an abundance of surplus fruit and vegetables with the community.

To get in touch with Pae Cycle, email [email protected].

Cycling to recycling: turning food scraps into community gold by Louise Thornley.

Read more about Pae Cycle here.
Read more about POG (Paekakāriki Orchards and Gardens) here and here.

Paekākā is a community-built, funded and run website. All funds go to weekly running costs, with huge amounts of professional work donated behind the scenes.  If you can help financially, at a time when many supporting local businesses are hurting, we have launched a donation gateway.