Post D – Alternate Waste Prospective

In my previous post I looked at two organisations waste management plans, one was Mallow Farm which is run by Mallow Sustainability and the other Zoos Victoria, which has three zoos throughout the Melbourne area. In this post I will be reviewing and assessing the processes followed by Mallow Farm and working out what could be improved.

Mallow Farm runs a small scale organic waste collection and management system for a handful of business in the area west of Brisbane. The waste collected is then composted and used to grow organic vegetables that are then made available for sale to local restaurants and the community. The only source for information on their processes and systems was Facebook, which they update regularly with pictures and information. The farms only current process is that of composting in large piles, which can be quite laborious and slow, but due to the size of their scale this may be the most cost effective method for the time being.

12871471_708994269240245_1694878261162832381_n.jpgMallow Farms compost heap

If their scope widens and more business come on board then there are several processes Mallow Farms could take from Zoos Victoria, that will expedite and industrialise their systems to allow for a reduction in time, both man and relative, and an increase in yield, both produce and waste product. For instance, by creating a bio-pod composting dome, like that mentioned in Zoos Victoria prospectus (Zoos Victoria, p28), the speed at which the organic matter breaks down would increase over that of a pile of waste on the ground (current method). Though the zoos prospectus quotes 10 thousand dollars for a handful of domes, much smaller and cheaper ones could be built with waste materials or palettes. Being smaller in size and enclosed less effort and time would be required to turn the waste and for it to breakdown.  Another option would be that of a worm farm, Zoos Victoria use these primarily at their Healesville site to process animal waste., this method can break down up to 400kg of organic matter per week ready to be added straight into the gardens. The final method would be to acquire an in-vessel composter like the Hot Rot which quickly and thoroughly composts the organic waste and breaks down any seeds and weeds to prevent the introduction of any unwanted plants or weeds to Mallow Farms garden beds. As the farm is a grass roots organisation with only a handful of people, its scope and outlay needs to remain small. Once it gains momentum then bigger and better things can be added and a system introduced that will allow for things to be done on a larger scale in a faster amount of time.

 

Zoos Victoria (unknown), Waste Management, viewed 14 June 2016, <http://www.zoo.org.au/about-us/vision-and-mission/environmental-sustainability/waste-management&gt;

Mallow Sustainability 2016, 12871471_708994269240245_1694878261162832381_n.jpg, viewed 14 June 2016, <https://www.facebook.com/Mallowsustainability/photos/a.556016817871325.1073741827.555841791222161/708994269240245/?type=3&theater&gt;

1 Million Women 2016, Taking out the trash: Woman launches start up to deal with organic waste, viewed 14 June 2016, <http://www.1millionwomen.com.au/blog/taking-out-trash-woman-launches-start-deal-organic-waste&gt;

Post C – Importance of Organic Waste Management

In this post I will be investigating  why management of organic waste is important and review the processes of two sources: the organic and sustainable Mallow Farm located just west of Brisbane and Zoos Victoria. Both vary greatly in their scope and purpose, the Zoos collect the waste from visitors and their animal residents and process it, Mallow Farm collects the waste from surrounding businesses to process it and use it to help to produce food.

Let’s start will Mallow Sustainability, the company responsible for the creation, implementation and running of Mallow Farm. They provide  an organic waste collection service to local businesses  and in turn process that waste via composting methods. The nutrient-rich compost is then used to fertilise and grow organic food that is then available for sale back to the local businesses and surrounding.  People are becoming more aware of things like carbon miles and the use of chemical fertilisers and pest control  and in turn organic, locally and sustainably sourced food have become more and more popular. Mallow Farm started working with two cafes and five tonnes of organic waste has been diverted from the local landfill to the farm, this includes coffee grinds, paper towels and fruit and vegetable scraps.

Mallow FarmThe Mallow Farm process.

Next is Zoos Victoria, which include the Werribee Open Range Zoo, Melbourne Zoo and the Healesville Sanctuary. Zoos Victoria is working towards a goal of zero waste by 2019. They don’t just have to separate and process all of the food scraps, garbage and paper but also have to deal with a great deal of poo from both man and beast. On average Melbourne Zoo collects almost a tonne of elephant dung every day. Zoos Victoria have installed several on-site processing facilities across all three of their  sites. At Melbourne Zoo,  the Hot Rot is used for the composting of garden waste, bedding straw and scrap food and packaging from their onsite food outlets. The Hot Rot is an in-vessel composter that creates the perfect environment for the production of microbes to help with the breakdown of the organic material. It is then blended to create Zoo Gro that can be used as an organic fertiliser or soil conditioner. Via this process alone Melbourne Zoo prevents two tonnes of organic material from going into landfill. Their Healsville Sanctuary uses a large worm farm that is capable of processing around 400 kilograms waste from the animals and their care to the catering and functions hosted on site.

Across all sites, the tri bin system is utilised, one each for general waste, green waste, and recycling. The zoos boast that many of the exhibits are made of reclaimed materials, sometimes from existing structures or enclosures.

The people of this planet have raped and pillaged it for far too long and it is about time we all start taking responsibility for what we take and what we throw away. Appropriate waste management is not only good for the environment but also can be good for the profit and growth of a business or organisation. Many places on this planet are filth laden cesspools, some beyond repair, but change is necessary to help maintain the one thing greater than us all, the earth.

Hot RotThe Hot Rot

1 Million Women 2016, Taking out the trash: Woman launches start up to deal with organic waste, viewed 14 June 2016, <http://www.1millionwomen.com.au/blog/taking-out-trash-woman-launches-start-deal-organic-waste&gt;

Zoos Victoria (unknown), Waste Management, viewed 14 June 2016, <http://www.zoo.org.au/about-us/vision-and-mission/environmental-sustainability/waste-management&gt;

Hot Rot Solutions (unknown), Koniambo, viewed 14 June 2016, <http://www.hotrotsolutions.com/images/product_images/1811_images/Koniambo.JPG&gt;

Mallow Sustainability (unknown), Screen_Shot_2016-01-05_at_3.34.02_pm, viewed 14 June 2016, <http://www.1millionwomen.com.au/blog/taking-out-trash-woman-launches-start-deal-organic-waste&gt;

Post A – Waste Audit

Thursday 9th June 2016 – Waste produced and collected:

Banana peel

Tomato end

Apple core

End piece of loaf of bread

Bread bag

Tea bag

Coffee grounds (not pictured)

Two napkins

Foil wrapper

Zip lock bag (not pictured)

In general I am wary of the things that I buy and the waste that I produce. I have a garden and a compost bin so all vegetable matter gets composted, all lawn clippings are used as mulch, everything that can be recycled gets recycled, clothes that I no longer want or need get donated and I’ve even gone as far as donating old towels and sheets to the RSPCA.  As a household of four adults we regularly produce only two bags of garbage per fortnight and completely fill the recycle bin. Where possible I use containers, reusable bags and items and regularly decline bags from retail stores, after all we have opposable thumbs for a reason. After laying out the collected waste from Thursday I was slightly surprised by the small amount that I produced. 60% of my collected waste (all organic) ended up in the compost bin, the rest in the garbage. I know for a fact that on other days I produce more waste but I was working a late shift and decided to treat lunch as dinner.

I redid my garden back in December last year and emptied and mixed the compost in, within a week a truss tomato and what ended up being a Jap pumpkin had sprouted. This is quite surprising as many of the vegetables we buy from supermarkets are hybrid varieties and don’t have the capacity to reproduce. It is a nice feeling to be able to pick and eat something from the backyard that was grown with the help of scraps and food that has been left in the fridge too long. While my garden is only small and has minimal plants, it can be enough sometimes to reduce what I need to buy from the supermarket. It has been enough to be able to create sauces and preserve things for use later on and even give some of it away to friends and family.

Not only do I try and reduce my waste I also try to reduce my intake. I am primarily vegetarian, only eating meat a couple of times a week on average and what meat and animal products I do eat I ensure they are ethically and responsibly sourced. By reducing my consumption I have over the last year and a half not only reduced my waste but also my waist, my spending (which is important as a poor student) and my environmental impact.

20160608_225459-02.jpeg

 

Post B – Data Collection Methods

There are two main types of data that can be collected: qualitative and quantitative.  Qualitative can include several different methods to gather detailed information from a range of smaller groups or demographics. These methods usually don’t collect information regarding the prevalence or scope of something but can provide more personal or individual information and experiences that can assist in increasing the understanding of the bigger picture and help frame a problem.  Qualitative research methods can provide focussed information that can assist in the creation of policy, develop programmes or help create more focussed research.

Quantitative research targets larger groups of people, populations or demographics to generate less detailed information that can be represented in percentages or numbers.

As I used qualitative research to complete my waste audit for my first post, here are examples of  some qualitative research methods:

  • Questionnaires: these are forms that are returned upon completion by a chosen individual or group. These can be useful when respondents are co-operative and the questions are completed accurately. Could be used by apartment strata’s or businesses to garner information from their residents or employees on the success or failings of the current waste collection/disposal method and what they would like changed.
  • Interviews: while the above was an impersonal way of collecting information from the respondent, an interview is better for situations that require more complex questions and the responses to be more dynamic. An interview of invited residents of a certain council could be undertaken by an auditor to gain a greater insight into the situation at a more personal level.
  • Direct observations:  sometimes known as empirical research/evidence, direct observation is the most accurate method of data collection when a situation has many variables. If a trial was being undertaken to see if people in a workplace (or the like) would separate recyclables, general and organic waste and put them in the appropriate bins, it would be more successful if someone was able to observe this in action.

For my waste audit I used the method of direct observation as I was actively collecting, storing and transporting my waste so I could record and analyse the result. None of the other methods would have been successful due to the nature of the undertaking and the extent of the variables. A good example of this sort of method on a larger scale would be MIT Media Labs “Placelet” project. The team tracked pedestrian passage and experience through the Essex St Pedestrian Mall in Salem, Massachusetts only to find that people’s perceptions and experiences of the “pedestrian mall” weren’t as first thought. After initial observations via cameras on the tops of local buildings it was found that the thoroughfare was frequently used by couriers and cars thus reducing the freedom of pedestrians and increasing the impression that the area wasn’t actually safe for regular pedestrian use.

Essex Pedestrian Mall

(Essex Pedestrian Mall)

FAO Corporate Document Repository 1998, Guidelines for the routine collection of capture fishery data, viewed 14 June 2016, <http://www.fao.org/docrep/003/x2465e/x2465e09.htm>.

Un Women 2013, Conducting research, data collection and analysis, viewed 14 June 2016, <http://www.endvawnow.org/en/articles/322-conducting-research-data-collection-and-analysis-.html>.

Poon, L. 2015, ‘ MIT Puts Pedestrians at the Center of Urban Design’, Citylab, viewed 14 June 2016, <http://www.citylab.com/tech/2015/08/mit-puts-pedestrians-at-the-center-of-urban-design/401285>.

Barrison, H. 2011, Salem_2011 07 30_0231, Flickr, viewed 14 June 2016, <https://www.flickr.com/photos/hbarrison/6023398497>.