Post D: Literature Review

The UTS Waste Management Plan (n.d.) was introduced as a required reading of the Wealth from Waste subject. This document is relevant as it outlined the history of waste management at UTS, the current progress and statistics of the amount of waste that is rescued or sent to landfill, the systems and facilities in place to sort and process waste on and off site, and the goals that UTS aimed to achieve into the future. This document, and other information about the UTS waste management system such as information by UTS Green (2017) and the Institute for Sustainable Futures (2017), was particularly useful to our group project as it provided information and guidance on our designs and helped frame our brief. It brought a non-governmental and small scale perspective to the organic waste problem.

The Highgrove Royal Gardens in Gloucestershire, United Kingdom, is a residence of the Prince of Wales which incorporates organic farming practices with sustainability concepts (The Prince of Wales, 2017). I was aware of Highgrove for many years through an introduction by my partner to a video on the gardens (The British Monarchy, 2011) as I had always had a keen interest in sustainability practices. The management practices of Highgrove show how the organic waste life cycle can be treated locally, within 15 acres, in a residential setting. I found it particularly interesting that they treat their own wastewater through a reed filtration system (The British Monarchy, 2011). In tandem with the gardens, Prince Charles has also established an International Sustainability Unit (2011) which has published articles addressing sustainable urbanisation (International Sustainability Unit, 2015) and research on the sustainability and resilience of food systems on a global level (International Sustainability Unit, 2011).

Technical Document on Municipal Organics Waste Processing

The “Technical Document on Municipal Organics Waste Processing” (Environment Canada, 2013) was a very valuable document in helping me understand the was organic was could be processed on a large scale and relates directly with the issues discussed in class in regards to how multiple systems and stakeholders may be able to work together to achieve a complete and efficient system. This document was found while I was searching for information about caddy liner design and organic waste statistics.

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Temperature variations and microbial populations during the composting process (Environment Canada, 2013, pp. 31)

It was highly relevant to our subject as it describes, in depth, statistics of amounts of organic waste produced and processed in municipal areas in Canada, the challenges and benefits to recycling organic waste, the processes local councils may use to treat organic waste, the scientific and biological process of breaking down organics, the available technologies that can be harnessed for organic waste recycling, how the resulting by-products are used and the structure of the compost market system. It is an end to end understanding of the organic waste process which mentioned how bin caddies can be used in the household (Environment Canada, 2013, pp. 31) to which system combination could councils implement (Environment Canada, 2013, pp. 193). The information provided is educational and serves as a guide weighing the pros and cons of each method that is mentioned in the document to help local councils make decisions about their own waste management systems. The way the document was formed showed at least an interdisciplinary approach to understanding the full waste stream as it combined many industries and skill sets. Environment Canada also presented the information in a comprehensive yet concise manner which seemed ideal for making informed bureaucratic decisions.


The British Monarchy, 2011, “Highgroves: Discover its sustainable secrets”, Youtube video, England, viewed 10th June 2017, < >

Environment Canada, 2013, “Technical Document on Municipal Solid Waste Organics Process”, Canada, viewed 17th April 2017, < >

International Sustainability Unit, 2011, “What Price Resilience? Towards sustainable and secure food systems“, UK, viewed 10th June 2017, < >

International Sustainability Unit, 2015, “Food in an urbanised world“, UK, viewed 10th June 2017, < >

Prince of Wales, 2017, “The Royal Gardens“, Clarence House, England, viewed 10th June 2017, < >

UTS, n.d., “UTS Waste Management Plan“, UTS, Sydney, viewed 18th March 2017, < >

UTS Green, 2017, “Waste and recycling | University of Technology Sydney“, UTS, Sydney, viewed 17th April 2017, < >

UTS Institute of Sustainable Futures, 2017, “Food scraps to soil conditioner: Processing food waste onsite at UTS | University of Technology Sydney“, UTS, Sydney, viewed 17th April 2017, < >

Post C: Methodologies

My group, Green Tea Leaves, used a variety of methodologies to formulate and investigate our brief which aimed to improve the UTS Underground’s waste management system.

One of the first primary methodologies involved a semi-structured interview with a member of cleaning staff which was performed to highlight potential issues in the Underground and guide our design brief. The interview revealed the scope of the waste problem in the Underground and the reasons behind user behaviour including a lack of understanding and information of how to sort waste, and systemic issues and inefficiencies with the waste management system at UTS.

Outline of our results of the semi-structured interview and video ethnography in our presentation

Video ethnography was then carried out in the Underground which consisted of an hour long recording of a bin location. This methodology further corroborated the findings of the semi-structured interview by visually demonstrating in real time the confusion and difficulty surrounding the use of the existing bin system and revealing a pattern where users paused when approaching the bins before disposing of their waste.

Our group then conducted a survey to collect quantitative data to identify how poor signage has contributed to the Underground waste management problem. The survey revealed that a large proportion of respondents lacked confidence in their ability to correctly separate waste and were unaware of how the UTS waste management system worked. Many respondents commented on the lack of signage.

UTS’ recent rebranding was a vital event that informed our group’s design process and visual identity. On learning of the rebranding, our group performed marketing analysis by looking at ‘UTS Brand Guidelines April 2017’ (UTS, 2017a) and ‘UTS MCU Tone of Voice Guide’ (UTS, 2017b) as well as identifying a range of official UTS social media platforms.

UTS_Brand-Guidelines_2017 pg 86
A toolkit implementing UTS’ brand guidelines (UTS, 2017a, pp. 86)

We discovered a comprehensive set of rules dictating a colour scheme of primary and monochromatic colours, the use of specific sans-serif fonts such as NB International and Arial, a geometric and linear visual style with elements of disorganisation, spontaneity and randomness, and a standardised iconography library that implements the use of balanced stroke weight and scale (UTS, 2017a; UTS, 2017b). Implementing these design elements helped our designs resonate with the stakeholder of UTS.

UTS uses social media sites Facebook (UTSEngage, n.d.a), Instagram (UTSEngage, 2017), Twitter (UTSEngage, n.d.a), LinkedIn (UTS, n.d.b), Google+ (UTS, n.d.a) and Youtube (UTS Channel, n.d.) in English as well as Chinese social media, Weibo (UTS International, 2017a) and Youku (UTS International, 2017b). We identified that UTS uses popular social media sites especially those popular with young adults, professionals and Chinese users. This informed our choice of the social media outlets, Facebook and Instagram, in our designs as they could be easily implemented and accepted in UTS’ existing social media identity whilst appealing to our target users, young adults.

utsengage instagram
UTS’ Instagram (UTSEngage, 2017)

Our methodology results helped us formulate targeted strategies in our designs including education about waste disposal practices and facilities at UTS, an instructional approach to waste separation, providing interactive ways for users to engage with the system, and providing more intuitive, simplified and user-friendly facilities to reduce user confusion.



UTS, n.d.a, “University of Technology Sydney – Google+”, viewed 16th June 2017, < >

UTS n.d.b, “University of Technology Sydney | LinkedIn”, LinkedIn, viewed 1st June 2017, < >

UTS, 2017a, “UTS Brand Guidelines April 2017“, UTS, Sydney, viewed 1st June 2017, < >

UTS, 2017b, “UTS MCU Tone of Voice Guide“, UTS, Sydney, viewed 1st June 2017, < >

UTS Channel, n.d., “University of Technology Sydney – YouTube”, YouTube, viewed 1st June 2017, < >

UTSEngage, n.d.a, “UTS (@utsengage)”, Twitter, viewed 1st June 2017, < >

UTSEngage, n.d.b, “UTS: University of Technology Sydney”, Facebook, viewed 1st June 2017, < >

UTSEngage, 2017, “UTS (@utsengage)”, Instagram, viewed 16th June 2017, < >

UTS International, 2017a, “悉尼科技大学UTS的微博_微博”, Weibo, viewed 1st June 2017, < >

UTS International, 2017b, “悉尼科技大学的自频道-优酷视”, Youku, viewed 1st June 2017, < >


Project: Green Tea Leaves

Green Tea Leaves’ design brief aimed to improve the UTS Underground (Tower Building) waste management system by educating users about the waste stream and waste separation at UTS and creating facilities that are intuitive and easily understood. This has been achieved by streamlined style of signage in line with UTS’ rebranding, bin redesign and incorporating multiple educational and interactive medias.

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Primary research was crucial as it underpinned and informed our design brief. Firstly, a literature review was conducted to understand what design approaches were utilised in the past to address the organic waste problem, as well as identify information about the behaviours of the primary users of UTS: students in the 18 to 25 year old age range. We found that this cohort was one of the most food wasting age groups, were more aware of the food waste problem but lacked skills and strategies for dealing with food waste (Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water NSW, 2011). Restricting our brief to the Underground, our group then designed conducted methodologies including a semi-structured interview with a member of cleaning staff, video ethnography and mapping of the Underground, a survey of current UTS students and staff to collect quantitative data examining users’ behaviour and education about waste management at UTS, and marketing analysis.


The semi-structured interview revealed a lack of understanding of how to use the waste management system at UTS among users of the Underground with signage and bin labelling identified as areas to further develop. This finding was further corroborated in video ethnography, showing confusion and frequent pausing among users as they approached the bins with their waste, and in our survey where over 40% of respondents said that they had trouble deciding which bin was the right one for their rubbish.

In consideration of UTS’ recent rebranding, marketing analysis was performed to inform our design approach. In the document ‘UTS Brand Guidelines April 2017’ (UTS, 2017a) and ‘UTS MCU Tone of Voice Guide’ (UTS, 2017b), we identified a comprehensive set of rules dictating the use of specific sans-serif fonts, primary and monochrome colour schemes, and the use of iconography.

Development of Ideas

After examining the Underground space, we identified decorative walls that could be instead used as a platform for education. Wallpapers were designed in the UTS branding aesthetic communicating the impact of food waste and an explanation of the waste management system at UTS accompanied by links for further information.



Existing screens in the Underground will display bright colour coded digital panels using UTS stylised iconography to inform consumers on which bin is the correct bin for each waste item as well as stream informational videos about waste reduction.

Using existing and well patronised social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram, we can engage and educate students easily, providing strategies for dealing with food waste, educating on the impacts of waste on the environment and UTS’ waste management procedures, and notifying students of related UTS events.


Bin areas have been redesigned to facilitate in ease of use and reduce contamination issues by influencing user behaviour. The mouth of the bin enclosures reduces the visibility of rubbish inside to prevent users from informing their waste separation by following the behaviour of contaminating users. A bin has been added for liquid waste to encourage users to separate liquids from their recyclables. A waste flowchart has been added above the bin space to guide users in the waste separation process.

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Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water NSW, 2011, “Food Waste Avoidance Benchmark Study“, Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water NSW, Sydney, viewed 16th May 2017, < >

UTS, 2017a, “UTS Brand Guidelines April 2017“, UTS, Sydney, viewed 1st June 2017, < >

UTS, 2017b, “UTS MCU Tone of Voice Guide“, UTS, Sydney, viewed 1st June 2017, < >

Post B: Diversity for diverse systems

Our group’s caddie design created a balance between function and form by using three identical folded paper sections that would hold up to the organic waste put inside it. We used a paper flyer and an instructional video to communicate our design. It was important for the flyer to be able to universally communicate the instructional process so visual imagery was important to successfully communicate to all groups, be it non-English speakers, dyslexics who find it difficult to read, or visual thinkers. The video engages the audience and shows the construction of the liner in real time. On reflection, improvements could be made, such as the addition of voiceover on the instructional video in order to make the video accessible to those with visual impairment.

Green T Leaves’ instructional diagrams in progress

Designers have a part to play in system design

Diversity is beneficial in addressing complex problems such as organic waste. Cultural diversity has been shown to increase innovation and entrepreneurship (Nathan & Lee, 2013). Temple Grandin proposes that there are all sorts of thinkers: pattern, visual, auditory and verbal; and they are all needed (Grandin & Panek, 2013; Grandin, 2014). A balance and inclusion of these minds is crucial. For example, Steve Jobs was an artist, a visual thinker, and had audited a calligraphy course in college. This led to the Mac having “multiple typefaces or proportionally spaced fonts” (Naughton, 2011) with the help of engineers, pattern thinkers, to realise this iconic feature. Conversely, Grandin points out that a visual thinker would have foreseen the problematic design of the Fukushima plant and included waterproofing features that would have prevented the meltdown (Acton & Hibbs, 2012; Buongiorno et al., 2011; Grandin, 2014).

grandin cattle coral
Grandin, a visual thinker, designed for the “wicked problem” of the cattle slaughter industry to be more humane. Left: Design schematic (Grandin, n.d.-b), Right: An Australian cattle ranch corral designed by Grandin (Grandin, n.d.-a)

Transdisciplinary design extends the notion of the importance of diversity by recognising that multidisciplinary design approaches start the diversification process by the meeting of different disciplines yet in a “siloed manner” (Hearn, 2011), but transdisciplinary design “challenges the assumptions we carry within us, to re-think way we do things and the outcomes of our decisions” (Curi, 2016). The organic waste problem can benefit from a transdisciplinary approach as the problem being solved is not uniquely related to any one discipline.

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Hard Systems vs. Soft Systems methodological approaches (Checkland & Poulter, 2006, pp. 19)

While other industries may employ a “hard systems” methodology where the system exists to be manipulated (Checkland & Poulter, 2006), design moves towards a “soft systems” approach as it focuses on the interplay between the environment, users and components in the system by assessing the usability and accessibility of a design, improving customer engagement, and not necessarily taking an approach where a single solution that is considered objectively ‘best’ is provided but rather considering multiple design options as possible solutions.

It is only natural that design be included in all types of systems, be it an organic waste system or the design of a nuclear power plant. Designers are visual thinkers, however they are also a balance between art and engineering, a diverse skillset. Each discipline is useful in the process of designing potential organic waste solutions and lends certain strengths, toolkits, and knowledge, and allows for appropriate task allocation and efficiency. Different perspectives, as users of the organic waste system also, help achieve a broader understanding of the problem. Therefore, all minds are needed to be able to reveal and broadly contextualise the problem at hand.


Acton, J. & Hibbs, M. 2012, “Why Fukushima was preventable”, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Washington DC, viewed 7th May 2017,  

Buongiorno, J., Ballinger, R., Driscoll, M., Forget, B., Forsberg, C., Golay, M., Kazimi, M., Todreas, N., Yanch, J., 2011, “Technical Lessons Learned from the Fukushima-Daichii Accident and Possible Corrective Actions for the Nuclear Industry: An Initial Evaluation”, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts, viewed 7th May 2017,

Checkland, P. & Poulter, J. 2006. Learning for action: a short definitive account of soft systems methodology and its use for practioners, teachers and students, John Wiley and Sons, Ltd. pp. 3-22

Curi, G. 2016, “Why Transdisciplinary Design?”, New York, viewed 7th May 2017,

Grandin, T. n.d.-a, “Australian Cattle Ranch Design”, photographed by Roberto E. de A. Barros, viewed 9th May 2017,

Grandin, T. n.d.-b, “Basic Curve Design for Cattle Handling, Cattle Yards, and Corral Designs”, viewed 9th May 2017,

Grandin, T. 2014, “Different kinds of minds contribute to society“, The Biomedical & Life Sciences Collection, Henry Stewart Talks Ltd, London, viewed 7th May 2017,

Grandin, T. & Panek, R. 2013, “How an Entirely New, Autistic Way of Thinking Powers Silicon Valley” viewed 7th May 2017,

Hearn, M. 2011, ‘The power of transdisciplinary design’, Artichoke, Issue 35

Nathan, M. & Lee, N. 2013, ‘Cultural Diversity, Innovation, and Entrepreneurship: Firm-level Evidence from London.’ Economic Geography, Vol 89, Issue 4, pp. 367–394.

Naughton, J. 2011, “Steve Jobs: Stanford commencement address, June 2005”, viewed 7th May 2017,

Post A:The Journey of a humble Soup

Though I no longer live with my parents, I am occasionally handed the by-products of their garden. As part of my One Day Waste Audit, I will mainly examine the waste associated with the life cycle of a Chinese gourd from my mum’s garden.

Peels from the gourd

The four kilogram gourd was made into a soup with several ingredients. Waste within the house consisted mainly of peels from the vegetables and the plastic packaging of the noodles. Four parts of the gourd were considered inedible due to the texture or the difficulties in digesting it, so were disposed of in general waste or fed to my pet galah, Bitey. All of these parts were fully degradable, however the local council does not permit organic kitchen waste to be disposed of in their green waste bins (The Hills Shire Council 2014; The Hills Shire Council 2016) and a composting system is not practical as I have no garden.

Water was an integral part of the gourd’s journey. The gourd was grown with water; to wash it took water; the soup needed water as an ingredient; after eating, dishes were washed with water; and through the excretion process, water is used again, going back into the sewerage system.

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My One Day Waste Audit featuring the gourd

Before water enters the home, it has to be treated in a number of ways including a filtering process consisting of a mesh filter, sand and charcoal beds, and flocculent; and chemical treatment by adding chlorine, fluoride and a pH balancer (Sydney Water n.d.-b). Wastewater is also treated whereby biosolids, used in agriculture and mining, is extracted, while other waste materials are sent to landfill, then the remaining water is either recycled or discharged into the waterways (Sydney Water n.d.-a).

“Wasted” water has been a longstanding issue in Sydney marked by the implementation of Level 3 Water Restrictions in 2005 due to falling dam levels (Sydney Water n.d.-c; Sydney Water, n.d.-d), and ‘Water Wise Rules’ in 2009 which have remained in place (Sydney Water, n.d.-d). Governments have implemented a variety of laws to address water wastage issues such as mandatory water efficient design on new properties (NSW Legislation 2014), and mandatory water saving devices in rental properties to bill tenants for water (Fair Trading, n.d.), while residents have changed their water use habits due to legislation and campaigning (Dolnicar, S. & Hurlimann, A. 2010; Randolph, B. & Troy, P. 2007).


My One Day Organic Waste Audit highlights problems concerning the highly urbanised lifestyle of myself and many Sydneysiders. It may be worth exploring how we can use certain aspects of Sydney’s water restriction campaign in order to affect the behaviours and attitudes of individuals, and look at how changes in rules and regulations or services at a local government level can give individuals more choice and autonomy with how they deal with waste.

Canapé Audit

At the UTS book launch, there was emphasis placed on the use of Australian ingredients in the canapés which potentially reduced the environmental cost of making of the canapés such as decreased energy used in transport due to shorter distances. However not all the ingredients were accounted for on the menus or the caterer’s website (European Catering n.d.). A major point of waste was the terrarium dish where a disproportionate amount of dip was used compared to the amount of vegetables.

gourd assessment 1 post a 1i_01
Canapé audit


Dolnicar, S. & Hurlimann, A. 2010, ‘Australians’ Water Conservation Behaviours and Attitudes’, Australian Journal of Water Resources, 14 (1), p.g. 43-53, viewed 1st April 2017, <;

European Catering n.d., Cocktail Menu, Sydney, viewed 1st April 2014, <;

Fair Trading n.d., Passing on water charges, NSW, Australia, viewed 1st April 2017, <;

The Hills Shire Council 2014, Garden Organics – Green Lid, Sydney, viewed 1st April 2017, <;

The Hills Shire Council 2016, The Hills Shire Council – What goes in your green lidded bin, video, YouTube, viewed 1st April 2017 <;

NSW Legislation 2014, State Environmental Planning Policy (Building Sustainability Index: Basix) 2004, Parliamentary Counsel’s Office, NSW, Australia, viewed 1st April 2017, <;

Randolph, B. & Troy, P. 2007, Water Restrictions as a way of Moderating Demand, State of Australian Cities Research Network, viewed 1st April 2017, <;

Sydney Water n.d.-a, Wastewater Network, Sydney, viewed 1st April 2017, <;

Sydney Water n.d.-b, Water Quality and Filtration, Sydney, viewed 1st April 2017, <;

Sydney Water n.d.-c, Water Restrictions, Sydney, viewed 1st April 2017, <;

Sydney Water, n.d.-d, What were the previous water restriction levels?, Sydney, viewed 1st April 2017, <;