In order to create a relevant design solution for reducing organic waste within UTS housing, our group researched approaches taken by other universities within their housing complexes. One of the most inspiring examples was the sustainability guidelines of Colorado State University. The initiative is titled “Green Dining” and targets multiple aspects of the production, consumption and waste process associated with food. It must be noted that on-campus dining halls give the university a greater amount of control, as well as responsibility over student’s interaction with food waste. Aspects of the “Green Dining” initiative include use of locally produced and seasonal produce, produce grown on-campus, compostable to-go containers and a staff member from the “Green Guard” group whose aim is to reduce waste associated with student dining. Through tray-less dining, students “produce less than half a cup of food waste per meal,” (Colorado State University 2017) a drop of approximately 40%. Interestingly, it is noted that audits have been used as a method of data collection as well as an education tool.
“Food waste production per student has been determined by the plate waste audits which are conducted each semester as a way to educate students on plate waste and provide benchmark data.” (Colorado State University 2017)
In addition to prevention, schemes are also in place to compost or divert leftover food to the less fortunate. The statistics are reflective of the significance of these measures.
“In 2016, more than 116,308 pounds of food was donated by the dining centers and Mountain Campus. Non-perishable food donations are also collected from students as part of the Leave it Behind program at the end of the academic year to be donated to the food bank.” (Colorado State University 2017)
“Through both pre and post-consumer food waste diversion efforts (composting pulpers) Dining Centers operated by HDS have a 93% diversion rate of food waste from the landfill.” (Colorado State University 2017)
The Victorian Government’s “Love Food, Hate Waste” campaign takes a similar preventative approach to that shown by Colorado State University, as well as our group project. The website is a valuable tool in providing information regarding responsible consumption, planning & storage of food.
(Love Food Hate Waste 2017)
Despite this, information in regard to the consequences associated with organic waste once it is disposed of could be expanded upon. The Waste and Resource Recovery Plan from the Victorian Government emphasises this need for a focus on the disposal of organic waste. Many objectives are listed however initiative six, that of residential organics is of interesting. The objective is listed as “reduce waste to landfill, increase recycling,” (City of Melbourne 2014) listing that 47% of waste from high-rise residents is food waste, while 50% of waste produced from low-rise households is food waste – data collected through audits. The document also mentions “The Victorian Government’s ‘Love Food Hate Waste’ campaign has been designed to educate people about the value in keeping food waste out of rubbish bins,” (City of Melbourne 2014) perhaps implying that more action is needed once this waste is produced. The document highlights resident education (probably an indication of the effectiveness of campaigns such as the ‘Love Food Hate Waste” as mentioned) and demand for services that would enable them to dispose of food waste effectively, that are not provided due to cost & “logistics.”
“High rise residents are seeking a way of composting their waste and some low-rise residents have requested a third bin for organic (i.e. food waste and/or green garden clippings) waste. A three bin system is only practical for residents living in low-rise housing due to logistical issues concerning the management of high rise waste collection. Another way to reduce food waste in the residential garbage bin is to support residents to manage food waste at home. City of Melbourne already provides subsidised compost bins and worm farms to residents. This subsidisation is not widely promoted.” (City of Melbourne 2014)
(City of Melbourne 2014)
The actions listed mainly focus on trialling new methods and promotion of the “Love Food Hate Waste” scheme already in place. Comparison of the initiatives of the Colorado State University “Green Dining” scheme and that of the Victorian Government highlight the importance of an organic waste management plan that caters to all points of the production, consumption and waste cycle. As organic waste management is such a complex problem, it requires a multifaceted solution that focuses on all aspects of intervention for maximum effectiveness.
City of Melbourne, 2014, Waste and Resource Recovery Plan, Victoria State Government, viewed 5 June 2017, <https://www.melbourne.vic.gov.au/SiteCollectionDocuments/waste-and-resource-recovery-plan.pdf>.
Colorado State University, 2017, Sustainability, viewed 5 June 2017, <https://housing.colostate.edu/about/sustainability/>.
Love Food Hate Waste, 2017, Love your food, Victoria State Government, viewed 5 June 2017, <http://www.lovefoodhatewaste.vic.gov.au/love-your-food>.