Post D: Organic waste management initiative

Organic waste management initiative for universities

Necessity/ Why universities?
Based on the two case studies I investigated (waste management in Hong Kong and Japan) in blog C, there is a key approach to organic waste management, which is education.
Education plays a significant role in raising environmental awareness. In relating to the fundamental change in participation and habits, the attitude towards wastes of individuals is a significant aspect of organic waste management.
Universities educate most of the people who develop and manage society;s institutions. They have profound responsibilities to enhance the awareness, knowledge and technologies to make a sustainable environment for the future. Therefore, universities play the important role to build up the intellectual and conceptual framework to help create a sustainable future.

Scope/ Focus:
There are multitudes of causes that contribute to current situation of waste management:

I looked into society factors that influence the practices of organic waste management for education institutions. And I specifically looked into societal factors includes culture and education. 

Keywords: education and awareness, public participation, attitudes and behaviors

Current situation of organic waste management in Hong Kong:
In recent years, Hong Kong government has been operating several programs regarding organic waste problems (posted in Post C- case study), but the current situation is till not good, the amount of organic waste that send to landfills is still rising. It is reported that many of them do recognize organic waste that sent to landfills might be environmental contaminative, but they don’t know what exactly landfilling organic waste will do to the environment. And another problem is that many people feel that they have no impact on the decision-making process, and as a result, they do not care about their waste disposal behaviors. So it is very important to make people feel like they can make a difference when it comes to these environmental problems or become involved in doing something about them.2.pic_hd
Taking Japan’s practices of waste management as a successful example, Hong Kong education institutions can improve their education system towards environmental matters, in order to change the social behaviors of waste disposal and separation. Universities can set up more classes or lectures to educate students.
The success of a waste management program largely depends on public participation; thus holding activities/ events can be effective ways to improve the participation of the organic waste management.

The Chinese University of Hong Kong 2014, Raising Awareness on Waste Minimisation, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, viewed 20 June 2016, <;.
Ministry of the Environment 2005, Japan’s experiment in promotion of the 3Rs, Ministry of the Environment, viewed 19 June 2016, <;.
Ministry of the Environment 2014, History and current state waste management in Japan, Ministry of the Environment, viewed 19 June 2016, <;.
Moreton Bay 2015, Reducing your waste, viewed 20 June 2016, <;.





Blog C: Organic waste matters!

Organic waste matters!

What is organic waste:
Organic waste includes organic materials such as food, garden waste. It can also include animal and plant based material and degradable carbon such as paper and cardboard.

Why is organic waste management important?
Organic waste forms a significant component of waste generation in Australia. Organic waste management includes disposal such as landfilling, recycling and composting.

Waste disposal: Save landfill space
In Australia, an estimated 53.7 million tons of waste was generated during 2009-2010; organic waste contributed up to 12.8 million (24%) tons of total waste, as the second largest waste generator by type (the largest volume of waste is masonry materials). Furthermore, in 2010–11 an estimated 14 million tons of was generated nationally; up to 47 percentages of organic waste were disposed to landfill (National Waste Reporting, 2013).
*Data source: National Waste Reporting, 2013 (page 1)

The number of organic waste sent to landfill has rapidly increased in these years. The land that allocated to waste disposal is filling up rapidly. Therefore, effective organic waste management helps to save landfill space. Additionally, concerning the situation of the shortage of land resource due to the increasing of global population, an effective organic waste management can greatly help to improve the land utilization efficiency and the sustainable use of land.

Environmental benefits:
-Reduce contamination
-Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions
-Protect groundwater and soil
In landfills, the process of organic waste decomposes produces methane gas and a toxic liquid called leachate. Methane is a greenhouse gas which can have a global warming potential up to 25 times greater than carbon dioxide. Leachate, which is highly toxic, can contaminate groundwater and soil. Therefore, organic waste management, especially reducing the amount of organic waste that sent to landfills is crucial for reducing pollution and protects the environment.

Economic benefits:
Lower costs of landfill disposal
Landfill disposal is costly; for example, it includes operational costs including labor and transportation expenses and the cost of land purchase and land maintaining. Reduce the amount of organic waste that directed into landfills means less costs for collecting and transporting; therefore lower cost of disposal waste to landfills.
Estimated costs for large best practice landfill in Australia
*Data source: The full cost of landfill disposal in Australia, 2009 (page 13)

Recycling and composting:
Collecting and processing waste into reusable materials is called recycling. Composting is a method of recycling. By composting, more organic waste sent to landfills can be reused and recycled into useful materials such as humus, which is the organic component of soil. Composting plays an important role of waste management techniques; it helps to improve the economic value of organic waste and has significant environmental benefits.

Obligations of organic waste management
Organic waste management is primarily the obligation of governments. The Australian Government is in charge of national legislation and strategies for waste. Local governments have obligation for waste management as set by the regulatory framework of every state or region. Furthermore, local governments play a major role in conducting the process of collecting and transporting waste, waste disposal, and recycling.
However, waste management is not only the obligation of governments. Industries and businesses and also other institutions such as hospitals and schools are involved in the waste management.

Strategy for better organic waste management
>Prevent and reduce organic waste at Source.
>Reuse and Donation (such as donate surplus food).
>Collect and sorting organic waste.
>Recycle to improve the value of organic waste (recover energy and nutrients).

Besides, education and publicity are vital in enhancing the effectiveness of organic waste management. Programmes such as educational campaigns for promoting organic waste reduction can significantly strengthen the promotion of organic waste reduction.


Cases study

Food waste is one of the significant contributors of the organic waste stream. 

Case 1: Food wastes in Hong Kong
In Hong Kong, there is estimated 3,648 tons food waste produced each day. Around 33% of them are from commercial and industry sector, and the remaining are from households. Besides, the amount of disposal food waste from commercial and industry sector has been increasing in recent years, from 400 tons in 2002 to 1,003 tons in 2013; thus, it leads to rapid depletion of limited space of landfills in Hong Kong. Additionally, the process that food waste decomposes in landfills produces greenhouse gasses such as methane and toxic liquid, which leads to severe contamination.
Therefore, The Environmental Protection Department (EPD) in Hong Kong pays attention to developing the Organic Waste Treatment Facilities (OWTF) in recent years. The OWTF is to apply biological technologies in organic waste management, which helps to compost organic waste and transform it into compost and biogas for recovery.

Food Waste Management in Hong Kong
“Greener Action” in Hong Kong:
Reducing food waste disposal in landfills in Hong Kong is a big challenge. In response to the food waste problem in Hong Kong, the government has conducted a comprehensive approach to deal with the food waste issues, with the primary focus on reducing food waste at source.
The key approach, as well as the fundamental way to address the present disposal food waste issues, is to reduce food waste at source. ‘Greeners Action’ is part of the “Food Waste Recycling Partnership Scheme,” which aims to prevent and minimize food waste production and promote food waste management practice.
*Read more:

Recyclable Collection
-Optimize network of Organic Waste Treatment Facilities
-Improve technologies for recycling and composting

Education and publicity
Hong Kong government set up an adverting program called Food Wise Hong Kong Campaign, which aims to raise public awareness of food waste issues in Hong Kong as well as provide a series of practical suggestions and guides for people to conduct.
Besides, EPD focuses on conducting the advertising campaign to increase the awareness of avoiding food waste in public. They have designed different kinds of educational brochures and poster.
*Read more:

Overall, education and publicity are highlights of the food waste management in Hong Kong. These educational campaigns aim to raise public awareness of food waste issues in Hong Kong issues. It encourages Hong Kong businesses and organizations to take measures to reduce food waste through the services or products they provide. Also, it helps to educate individuals to practice food waste reduction; therefore contributes to reducing household food waste.

Case 2: The Idea behind successful waste management in Japan

Japanese cities are very clean. The concept of waste recycling has deeply rooted among the people in Japan. It is reported that Japan can recycle 60% organic waste from restaurants and food industries per year.

Japanese people are excellent at turn waste into things that valuable and also environmental friendly. I’ve heard about that there is a Japanese snack company reprocess leftover bread crust to snacks; the snacks became so popular, even won an environment award. As I researched, I found that Japan has established a policy for supermarkets, requiring there must be 45% recyclable waste among all waste production; otherwise, they will be fined. Therefore, Japanese supermarkets are so careful about the amount of waste they produce per day. They try ways to sell their goods, not only for profit but also to reduce the amount of waste they produce and avoid penalty.

The government has set up more than fifty regulations for waste separation for households. Waste recycling and disposal is part of the daily life of Japanese people. Even though the process of waste separation is so complicated and takes a lot of time, Japanese families are accustomed and willing to implement the sorting regulations.

Japan has passed several laws to address the disposal and treatment of waste. During the past three decades, pubic awareness and concerns about environmental effects regarding waste disposal have substantially increased. The conception of ‘everyone has to bear the responsibility of its own waste’ has been instilled into society through school education and various communication campaigns. So it’s no wonder that a trash bin is so hard to find on streets in Japan; because people are used to carrying their waste back home and respecting the sorting guidelines. The fundamental reasons are high levels of general education. Japan has a sound education system towards environmental matters; environmental courses are compulsory for students in schools.

Japan regularly hold activities such as educational activities and competition, aiming to educate citizens on better practices regarding waste disposal and separation. Oki, which is a town in Japan, is known as the town that produces the least amount of waste in Japan. Its local organization has held a competition about ‘which household can produce the least amount of waste in a week’, and a lot of families participated in this competition. The competition provided people opportunities to practice better waste disposal and separation and knew more knowledge about it. From an interview video about this competition that I found online, there is an interviewee said, after the competition, he was so surprised that the amount of trash produced in a day can be so less as long as he pays more attention to waste separation, and he learned so much through this competition and willing to keep this good behaviour in his daily routines.

*Link to the example of waste separation guidance in Japan:

*Link to the interview video (sorry it’s in Cantonese):

Environmental Awareness and Education: A Key Approach to Organic waste management
Both cases show the importance of education as one of an approach to organic waste management.
Education is the key action to raise awareness for the environment and help the progress of better organic waste management. Colleges and universities play a significant role in educating people, working to increase the knowledge and technology for a sustainable future

An overview on challenges for waste reduction and management in Hong kong 2005, Hong Kong Environmental Protection Department, viewed 8 June 2016, <>.
Cruz W., Fukui K. & Warford J. 2002, Protecting the global environment: Initiatives by Japanese business, The international Bank of reconstruction and development, viewed 18 June 2016, <;.
Food Wise Hong Kong 2013, Food Wise HK, viewed 9 June 2016, <>.
Hong Kong EcoCube 2014, euronews Knowledge, videorecording, Youtube, viewed 8 June 2016,
Ministry of the Environment 2005, Japan’s experiment in promotion of the 3Rs, Ministry of the Environment, viewed 19 June 2016, <;.
Ministry of the Environment 2014, History and current state waste management in Japan, Ministry of the Environment, viewed 19 June 2016, <;.
National Waste Reporting 2013, Australia Department of the Environment, viewed 9 June 2016, <>.
The full cost of landfill disposal in Australia 2009, BDA Group
Economics and Environment, viewed 9 June 2016, <>.
Water 2016, How Japanese turn waste to gold, viewed 18 June 2016, Yogee, <;.

Post B: Data methods

Data methods

Waste audit
From Post A, I conducted a daily waste audit for my research. By using this data method, it allowed me to find out the amount of waste that I produced in a day and also helped me to identify the categories of waste quickly. Besides, the information that listed in my waste audit gave me an idea of start thinking about how to minimize daily waste as individuals; and this helps me to explore further how organizations/ institutions can do to reduce waste.
I conducted the waste audit with following processes:
Started with record data (taking photos of wastes), then organized data by using Excel, follow with reviewed the results and reflection.
The second process is very useful, which is organize the audit.Creating a classification system for wastes helps me gain more knowledge about waste stream.

Waste audit is a very common method for collect information in waste management practices. By conducting a waste audit, organizations/ institutions can prepare a more efficient and applicable framework for waste management.

I found that conducting questionnaires is also an effective way in waste management practices. There are a lot of advantages of waste questionnaires. With questionnaires, conductor receives responds based on the identical set of questions, which can help the process of generating information. Besides, questionnaires often contain questions about respondents’ opinions, which help to understand their opinions and attitudes for stepping into the processes of making corresponding measures.
Conducting a questionary is a good way to know how people think about wastes/ waste management. Understanding people’s attitudes about wastes/ waste management is crucial in improving the process of waste management. It plays an important role in promoting waste minimisation through education and awareness.
Here is an example of waste questionnaire:

Screen Shot 2016-06-12 at 10.13.36 pm.png
[Waste and Recycling Collection Service Questionnaire]

There are also different types of waste questionnaires, here is another example of waste questionnaire, which is conducted by Canada Government:

Screen Shot 2016-06-12 at 10.20.47 pm.png

It is an active questionnaire that is conducted every two years in Canada. As it describes, the objective of this survey is to collect data that will help Canadians gain more understanding the practices of waste management industries in Canada. Besides, the results will help businesses to make appropriate decisions of waste management based on data in the questionnaire. Overall, the surveys will provide a comprehensive picture of waste management in Canada.

Overall, questionaries is an efficient and relatively cheap, quick evaluation tool for generating information from a large number of people. As questionnaires can be conducted online or with paper; thus it is a very practical and convenient way to investigate organic waste.
For example, the waste questionnaire can include questions about knowledge of organic wastes: e.g.,. Are you aware of the types of organic wastes?
Or, it can include a waste audit: e.g.,. Tick types of waste that you produced today.

Research methods: quetionnaires 2014, Simple Psychology, viewed 11 June 2016, <>.
Waste Management Industry Survey: Government Sector 2015, Statistics Canada, viewed 11 June 2016, <;.
Waste and Recycling Collection Service Questionnaire 2016, SurveyMonkey, viewed 11 June 2016, <>.

Post A: What’s in my garbage?

What’s in my garbage?

                My one-day waste audit


Basic steps: conducting a waste audit

Record information (taking photos) > Organize the audit (using Excel) > Review the results > Reflection

Step one:
Record information
First of all, I took photos once I produced waste.
Step two:
Organize the audit
I decided a classification system and sorted all the waste into different categories. Then I used Excel to organize the audit. I measured my waste with items.
Step three:
Review the results
After sorting the data (categories and items) of my one-day waste production, I researched some items and tried to find some useful knowledge about them. For example, I thought disposable coffee cups are recyclable; but after I had researched, I found that most disposable coffee cups are non-recyclable because of the plastic layers inside.
Step four:
A waste audit is an effective way to discover how individuals or groups/ institutions/ businesses can recycle more, improve the practices of recycling and being more environmental-friendly.
After conducting my personal waste audit, I realized how much wastes I produced in just a single day; also I learned more knowledge about types and facts of different waste materials.
Also, I researched the waste audit published by EPA NSW in 2015 (link below) and learned knowledge about disposal waste with regional groupings of areas in NSW. I lived in Burwood (as categorized into Sydney Metropolitan Area/ SMA in the EPA audit). From the NSW Regulated areas audit, I found that the SMA area represents the second biggest contributor of total waste production in NSW; and up to 80 per cents waste that sent to landfill are from the SMA area.


Environment Protection Authority:
[Disposal-based Audit Commercial and Industrial Waste Stream in the Regulated Areas of New South Wales],

According to my audit, 40 per cents of my daily waste production are non-recyclables, and 30 per cents of them are compostables, which are food waste and food scraps.

Organic Waste items study

-Banana peels
Most people usually just throw away the banana peels into cabbage can; so most banana peels end up in garbage disposal and sent to landfills, produce methane gas, a greenhouse gas which can exacerbate the problem of global warming.
However, I found out there are a lot of potential values of banana peels after I researched.
Benefits of Banana peels in compost/ Banana peels as fertilizers
Banana peels can be great fertilizers for garden plants.
The process of banana compost in a household compost pile can help produce rich organic materials, which can help plants grow healthier.
Ways to compost banana peels
– Put into a compost pile for fertilizers-use
– Directly bury the banana peels in the soil under a plant.
Values of banana peels:
-Environmental benefits:
Natural organic fertilizers, which can benefit plants.
Reduce the amount of banana peels that sent into landfills, which can reduce methane gas they produce and benefit to the environment.
-Money saves:
Save money from purchasing related nutrients for soil.
*There are other benefits of banana peels that I found online:



Environment Protection Authority 2015, NSW Environment Protection Authority, EPA, viewed 6 June 2016, <>.
Leibrock A. 2014, 10 things to do with banana peels, Sustainable America, viewed 6 June 2016, <;.