Over the past three posts, I have researched various strategies for waste management including a range of methods for data collection, data analysis, changing perceptions and understanding existing systems and industries. Along with this, I have given two examples of positive outcomes of carefully considered organic waste management which, alongside environmental obligations, has also brought financial benefits to the organisations willing to seek alternative solutions. In this post I will develop and propose an alternative organic waste management system to rival that of the current Woolworths system.
Woolworths currently process organic waste through the Earth Power system which comprises of processing waste and moving it to a facility to eventually be used for generating electricity; which, in turn, generates enough electricity to power around 145 houses per year.
Although this is a successful outcome for Woolworths, there will still be a variety of positive ways that the company can handle their organic waste. One interesting alternative would be to process and utilise their organic waste on site. Many Woolworths facilities have plant life in the car-park and surrounding areas which would benefit greatly from a constant supply of rich soil compost. Furthermore, the plant life would contribute to a positive brand image given the Woolworths tag line (the fresh food people) where having booming gardens before you enter the store.
Image 1 – Showing ideal woolworths store aesthetic including gardens.
This solution would require a closed system on each site comprising of collection, processing, storage and maintenance infrastructure. This would not be un-achievable and more than likely reduce costs in various areas such as landfill fees and garden upkeep. The overall system would be based off a residential composting cycle, scaled up to deal with the mass quantities of organic waste produced by a major supermarket chain.
Collection Points – This could be as simple as plastic tubs to immediately contain the food scraps in a clean container.
Processing – This could be designed with consideration to the plastic tubs. A modular approach could be used where each tub was stacked in a way that eventually (15-20 tubs) would form their own compost tower. The tower, without any additions, could begin the composting cycle with new tubs added to the top and completed tubs taken from the bottom. A date stamp would need to be considered at this stage to keep track of the time required for compost to break down.
Storage – I believe with this approach, the storage would be inherent in the design. There may be multiple towers to cope with demand and this could be scaled up and down to mirror Woolworths occasional boom in sales (Christmas and Easter). An oversupply of processed compost could be given, or sold to the community.
Maintenance – This system would require careful management from an employee, ideally employed to oversee the entire organic waste system from management of tub towers, time stamping, cleaning and restocking tubs and spreading the produced soil to necessary gardens. This position would most likely struggle to fill a full time schedule, even with mass quantities, and therefore may be suitable as part of the tasks allocated to the site landscaper.
Image 2 – Example of residential modular compost system.
Woolworths have an opportunity to process and utilise organic waste on site. This closed system would significantly reduce the overall management required to deal with externally processed organic waste largely due to eliminating logistic requirements. The system would benefit the look and appeal of the Woolworths stores by providing excellent plant life in car parks as well as demonstrating smart alternatives not unlike the methods used by the farmers that provide Woolworths with produce.
Image 1 – Illawarra Mercury, Parking to double for Wollongong Woolies, viewed on 14 June 2016, <http://www.illawarramercury.com.au/story/1273857/parking-to-double-for-wollongong-woolies/>.
Image 2 – Susana Forum, Toilet paper C:N ratio (carbon to nitrogen ratio) for composting processes, viewed on 14 June 2016, <http://m.forum.susana.org/forum/categories/70-composting-processes/7272-toilet-paper-cn-ratio-carbon-to-nitrogen-ratio-for-composting-processes>.