Post D: Literature Review- Individual Approaches Food Waste Management

The importance of food waste management is an imperative as concerns for a sustainable future are addressed even more so today. In this post, we examine the different approaches to food waste management from varying degrees such as small business initiatives (Silo by Joost Cafe), a multiple small business in a large system (Sydney Market), and more complex environments (like the city of Milan and Paris)

Sydney Market

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Image of Sydney Market (sydneymarkets.com.au)

As of 12 years, Sydney Markets has saved around a total of $20 million on landfill costs by redirecting 6,000 tonnes of waste into recycling and packaging, and avoiding the immediate route  of proceeding to landfill. Furthermore, another 60 tonnes of polystyrene found from packaging in the markets are producing an income stream of $36,000 per annum. This is achieved by exporting these materials to be recycled in China and thus made into kitchen cabinets. [ABC News, June 2017)

A closer study of one of the ways that Sydney Market has declared its war on waste involves its partnership with Veolia Australia. Veolia is an organisation aimed at promoting a sustainable future for the urban environment, especially by working with heavy industry, commercial, municipal and residential systems, in regard to multiple forms of waste, water and energy consumption. Specifically, the waste from the markets are aimed at converting itself to electricity instead of compost.

A brief overview of the process follows that after trading hours at the market, the produce are sifted and sorted. The inedible and rotten materials are congregated to Greenpoint, Flemington, and the bulk then delivered to Veolia’s Earthpower management plant. The waste is encased in a large tank (12 metres in height) which disintegrates with the help of specific bacteria (and under specific temperatures and aerobic conditions) that aid in microbial digestions. Once the decomposition occurs, the Methane (CH4), consisting of hydro-carbons which are necessary to produce electricity-are then extracted and directed to specific pipes intended to produce energy for the grid. The remaining materials are further broken down and dried until they are ready to become fertilisers (which are very rich in nutrients and elements)

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For more information on the energy plant process click here: Veolia: Earthpower Plant

From this we discover great benefits of food waste management activity as well as greatly reducing the amount of landfill produced. We realise that there are benefits of the process which not only provide nutritious compost for the soil; but also address the issue of energy consumption and management by relying on biodegradable materials to produce electricity instead of non-renewable resources. David Clarke, Earthpower’s chief executive comments, “What’s remarkable is it can take minutes, where as in landfill it would take up to 30 years to degrade into methane….We’re exporting about 8,000-9,000 megawatts per year, and that can power 1,500-3,200 houses.” (ABC News, 2017)

Silo by Joost

Melbourne based cafe Silo by Joost boasts of achieving zero waste productivity by working in collaboration with Closed Loop, which is an organisation that as its slogan comments- “Helping…business save money and reduce waste.” By installing one of Closed Loops organic compost machine, it recycles materials locally on site to which Joost, the owner of the store comments of returning it the soil of his backyard as compost.

For more information on Closed Loop products and services,
click here: Closed Loop Products and Services

Furthermore, the philosophy of the store aims at productivity and sustainability, thus almost every component of the cafe is carefully selected keeping in mind the potential for recycling and management. Joost comments,  “In this cafe, we don’t have any rubbish bins. We don’t accept anything in cardboard, we don’t accept anything in glass – so our milk comes in stainless steel vats, our whiskey comes in wooden barrels, all the produce comes in black returnable plastic crates. The only rubbish bin in the house is one made from recycled plywood.”

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Silo by Joost: a Perfect Circle (broadsheet.com.au)

Paris and Milan

Cities like Paris and Milan have also taken the pursuit of a sustainable future, having partnered with Novamont (an Italian Bioplastic company) that develops a compostable bag, named MATER-BI in which to collect food waste in residential areas.

In order to propagate the country’s sustainability commitments at COP21, Paris is beginning to deliver aerated caddie bins, as well as biodegradable MATER-BI compost bags to 74, 161 households. Milan however, had already rolled out its own sustainability project in November 2012 consisting of delivering packages of MATER-BI bags, and fines for residents that failed to correctly organise their food waste at home. This has resulted in over 90 kilograms of food waste collected and thus the city achieving over 50 percent separate waste collection.

 

Resources:

Sarina Locke. 2017. Sydney Markets sends rotting fruit and vegetables to generate electricity in war on waste – ABC Rural – ABC News. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.abc.net.au/news/rural/2017-06-06/sydney-markets-war-on-waste-and-queensland-failing/8572932. [Accessed 09 June 2017].

Gardening Australia – Fact Sheet: Closing the Loop. 2017. Gardening Australia – Fact Sheet: Closing the Loop. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.abc.net.au/gardening/stories/s3844409.htm. [Accessed 09 June 2017].

Resource Magazine. 2017. Paris rolls out separate food waste collection | Resource Magazine. [ONLINE] Available at: http://resource.co/article/paris-rolls-out-separate-food-waste-collection-11873. [Accessed 09 June 2017].

Images:

(2012), Silo by Joost: a Perfect Circle [ONLINE]. Available at: https://www.broadsheet.com.au/melbourne/food-and-drink/article/silo-joost-perfect-circle [Accessed 9 June 2017].

(2013), Sydney Markets Gallery: Pop Up Breakfast [ONLINE]. Available at: http://sydneymarkets.com.au/newsroom/gallery/2013-gallery/2013-pop-up-breakfast.html) [Accessed 9 June 2017].

Video:

Veolia Australia and New Zealand. (2017). Earthpower – Australia’s First Food Waste to Energy Plant. [Online Video]. 15 May 2013. Available from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YpY6G-ymqrA. [Accessed: 9 June 2017].

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Post C: Group Project Brief and Research Methods

For the group project which consisted of an open brief regarding food waste and management, all group members concluded that we would like to explore the importance of sound education to raise awareness and value with this issue.

Thus our main objective was to:

Promote Waste Management Education through ‘For Purpose’ initiative and in an event store

  • That is able to flexibly integrate and work with existing UTS events/initiative/expos
  • That educates UTS student body and faculty about food waste segregation and management through games, apps, booth activities.

We agreed that a lack of understanding of the UTS waste system discourages the student body to participate and be educated in better practices surrounding waste segregation. This observation was majorly based on a series of investigations such as personal interviews, literature reviews, student surveys, boundary mapping and STEEP Analysis.

Interview #1: Seb Crawford (UTS Green, Sustainability Coordinator)

From the interviews conducted with Seb Crawford we wanted to explore the initiatives that UTS had taken upon in regard to education and awareness of food waste management. From this, we were informed that “most of the education happened during the rollout of the food waste stream under the branding of “UTS Cleans Up.”  The waste stream is a 2015 initiative that introduces food wastes bins to be collected separately and hand sorted, which is then processed in a piloted composting machine on campus, Building 10.

Although improvements in waste management have occurred, single handed observation as a student body have agreed that there were still mixed wastes and lack of active participation of the students. This further led to the question of the student’s  personal awareness of food management affecting their engagement and behaviour. Thus, a general student survey was conducted around the campus.

Student Survey

A general survey asked a small group of the student body (46 respondees) about their level of understanding of the food waste management at UTS, and how much they know about the realised composting process that occurs at UTS.  80% indicated a poor knowledge of their understanding of food waste management, and 92% commented that although they were aware of the organic bins around campus, they did not know a lot of the process and how to work properly with the bin system.

General Student Survey (46 Respondees)
General Student Survey Conducted (46 Respondees)

Interview #2: Simone Soeters (Batyr@UTS)

Batyr@UTS is a non for profit organisation aimed at raising mental health awareness within the campus through Batyr Student Executive who act as Batyr student ambassadors on campus, (who allow) positive conversations about mental health (to be) encouraged. They also run numerous events on campus to get more students involved and also manage online mental health awareness campaigns. It held similar attributes to our main objectives of personal education in raising awareness, especially as they believe that “engaging in ‘direct personal contact’ with individuals” demonstrates an effective way to accomplish their mission. Their 2016 Impact Report for UTS indicates that around 80% of responders are satisfied with their program and have a great level of student engagement with their initiatives.

Batyr Impact Report @UTS
Graph of Batyr Impact Report @UTS

Literature Reviews: 

  1. “Waste Education and Awareness Strategy” Procedia- Social and Behavioural Sciences
  2. “Empowering Education” Shor, I.

Both reviewed articles explored were to further understand the importance of education in imprinting a change in societal values and beliefs. Both articles supported the importance of earlier intervention to promote a greater effect. This is particularly summarised in the following statements confidently suggesting “that a carefully through-out waste education and awareness strategy should be developed in order to change students’ habits and behaviour and traditions.”  (Waste Education and Awareness Strategy (Procedia); thus resolving that “Empowering education is oriented to self-transformation and social change” (Shor 1992, p. 188)

STEEP Analysis and Mapping

Broader forms of research method included the STEEP analysis to discuss the impact of the project brief on multiple systems (Social, Technological, Environmental, Economic, Political). Mapping was also implemented to realise the different boundaries of the project brief in the context of the university, as well as the hierarchical structure and possible stakeholders that would express interest in the initiative of waste management through education and marketing.

STEEP Analysis
STEEP Analysis

 

Stakeholders
Stakeholder Mapping

 

Boundary Mapping of Project
Boundary Mapping

 

 

Resources:

 

  • Waste Education and Awareness Strategy: Towards Solid Waste Management (SWM) Program at UKM – ScienceDirect. 2017. Waste Education and Awareness Strategy: Towards Solid Waste Management (SWM) Program at UKM – ScienceDirect. [ONLINE] Available at: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.sbspro.2012.09.244. [Accessed 08 June 2017].

 

  • Shor, I, 2012. Empowering Education: Critical Teaching for Social Change. 1. University of Chicago Press.

Post B: Group Project Reflection – Caddy Liner & Instruction

Part of the Interdisciplinary Course undertaken as students was understanding the importance of our role as designers not just within the Design sphere; but also within transdisciplinary issues which are outside of a typical design project. Such is the case with the brief of Organic Waste Management. By working with an actual client regarding organic waste and sustainability, we were able to understand and acknowledge the important skills and concepts that we as designers can contribute. In particular these were:
i.) design thinking,
ii) the importance of system methodologies and
iii) creating strategical proposals and solutions for a better outcome.

Group Proposal of Caddy Liner Instruction
Group Proposal: Caddy Liner Instruction

 

Approaching issues relating to organic waste solutions often require a variety of skills and thinking; hence involving multiple design disciplines. As shown with the group project of the Caddie Design, different practical skills and methods of thinking were assembled to produce the final project. A group charter of was mapped out, providing a vision of the different skills, interests and characteristics that each member could contribute to the group.

Group Charter
Group Charter

 

The different disciplines of Fashion, Integrated Product Design and Visual Communications students allowed a broader approach the design brief. Some were more prone to analytical and conceptual methods, others were hands-on and tactile. Some were more prone to the simplicity, while others reminded the group that aesthetic is also important for the interest of the user. There were individuals who were living in local councils that implement a Green Organic / 3-Bin Cycle and thus could current problems and benefits of this initiative. There were also individuals that did not have this in their area which meant that they could contribute a fresh and open approach that could effectively communicate to them as possible future users of the Caddy liner and instructions.

Design thinking focuses not on absolute problem-solving skills but in creative resolutions that propose acting towards creating a ‘better’ or ‘preferred’ future. This is important especially because not all problems are black and white. Most issues are very complex in its nature, and involve many factors such as social, environmental, cultural and technological, which greatly affect each other when a change occurs. An interesting, yet real example of the complexity of real life issues and its consequences is shown through this short and creative cautionary video that occurred in Borneo:

 

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See link: Systems Thinking: A Cautionary Tale

 

Such is the case in organic waste management which involves a variety of interest groups and issues such as stake holders, government policies, financial limitations; and attempting to encourage communication of organic waste management to individuals of every age, gender and culture. As a scholar Ulrich W. writes, “professional predominance in decision-making processes reaches further and affects more aspects of our lives than ever before, a fundamental conflict between…professionalism and civil society seems inevitable” (Ulrich, W.  Reflective Practice in the Civil Society: The contribution of critically systemic thinking, 2010)

As designers, it is part of the process to manoeuvre through the complexity of waste management by strategically organising these into systems. As described earlier, designers understand that there is not a one-for-all answer and thus are able to arrange and segregate factors into reasonable systems groups and from there, investigate and propose the best solution for the design brief. P. Chekland accounts“social situations [as] complex due to multiple interactions between different elements in a problematical situation as a whole, and systems ideas are fundamentally concerned with the interactions between parts of a whole. [Therefore,] it is systems ideas which help to structure the thinking” (Checkland P.  Learning For Action: A Short Definitive Account of Soft Systems, 2007)

In the case of Caddy Liner and Instruction project, the group investigated the many issues with the brief ranging from aesthetic qualities, the need for users to be encouraged with the issue of sustainability and recycling, cost effectiveness, and much more. By exploring the different issues and problems, it was narrowed down to what the group deemed as ‘most reasonable’ by focusing on a personal level and addressing the key themes: Clarity, Simplicity, Affordability, Practicality. With this, we were able to continue the design process and produce a caddy liner design and instruction as inferred from these themes.

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Group Presentation Slide: Caddy Liner Main Objectives

 

As one can see in this small example of the Caddy Liner and Instruction Project, we recognise the big contribution that designer make towards tackling problems and issues of society. As the designed process and outcome is realised, we also begin to understand the effectiveness of design thinking and systems methodology in regards to creating and managing complex and situations which do not stay stagnant, especially in an ever-changing world.

 

Resources:

Ulrich W. 2000, Reflective Practice in the Civil Society: The contribution of critically systemic thinking, Reflective Practice, 1:2, 247-268, DOI: 10.1080/713693151

Sustainability Illustrated 2014, ‘Systems thinking: a cautionary tale […], Youtube video, May 6 2014, viewed 26 April 2017 <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=17BP9n6g1F0>

Checkland P. 2007. ‘Learning For Action: A Short Definitive Account of Soft Systems Methodology, and its use for Practitioners, Teachers and Students. 1 Edition. Wiley, Hoboken NJ

 

Post A: Food Waste Audit

Conducting a Food Waste Audit for a family explores
i.) both an open and closed system
because it is dependent on the commitments and activities of the individuals within the household, as well as their personal choices particularly in food and waste consumption. Furthermore, within this small case study,
ii.) we encounter dynamic movements in the life cycle of the food,
allowing us to further understand the complexity involved in the process of food waste and consumption.

In this post, we will explore a very typical Saturday morning for food waste consumption in my family. Having first attempted to conduct an audit at a book lunch at university (*see picture at end of blog); this particular audit focuses towards the routine that each individual member of the family usually undertakes on this day. This also means that  the ‘One-day Saturday Audit’ will provide similar results for the general Saturdays (although the types of food consumed will be very different), of the family.

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Audit: A survey of each family member’s food intake during their own personal activities on Saturday

From the diagram, we notice the complexity of food consumption within the household.  It is generally likely that as a family, individuals would likely consume the same types of meals (and thus we can simply audit in terms of the quantity consumed). However, with different commitments and habits of the individual, there can also be variations in choices (as seen in the diagram for example, both parents consuming lunch at home, but it was a ‘takeaway,’ and then Child #1 decided to have ‘Brunch’ instead of having breakfast or lunch).

The home is subjected to Penrith City Council that makes use of the Organic Bin System (or ‘Green Bin’) which encourage a process “that organic waste is recycled into high-grade compost, recyclables are remade into new products and the small amount of waste leftover is buried in landfill” (Penrith City Council Bin Services). Thus, to continue the story of food consumption, a further audit was initiated, from the ‘food diary’ of each individual (via survey of each person), to an actual closer inspection of the wastes inside the Green Bin for that Saturday. With this, we can focus on the food process at a more specific direction.

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Audit of Saturday food waste found inside the ‘Organic Waste Caddie’ at home, which is to be emptied in the Green Bin daily.

The results shown above enables us to notice that most of the scraps are from the family dinner since every single member of the family was at home to have a sit-down meal together. However, there is also evidence (though scarce) of food scraps from other meals throughout the day, even if they were not homemade.

This further leads to the realisation of the different lifecycles present inside the Organics Bin. It also allows us to discover a complex flow of the food wastes, which converge towards a singular direction towards the Organic Bin. As the Bin is collected and moves towards the recycling sites, the wastes are then segregated into different systems; thus splitting the life cycle and again, diverging them into different processes and systems- a great example of the dynamics and complexity of the food waste process.

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Sketch Diagram of dynamic movements in the lifecycle of food waste conducted in the audit
Coffs Coast Waste Services
Coffs Coast Waste Services in NSW that also implements the Organics Bin System which is a structure that is similar to all other Councils that implement this System (Frequently Asked Questions and Answers, Coffs Coast Waste Services)

 

UTS Book Launch Audit
* UTS Book Launch – Initial attempt at Food Audit
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* UTS Book Launch – Initial attempt at Food Audit

 

References:

Coffs Coast Waste Services, Frequently Asked Questions and Answers. Online PDF, Coffs Harbour City Council, Coffs Harbour, viewed 2 April 2017 <http://recyclingnearyou.com.au/documents/doc-227-frequently-asked-questions-and-answers.pdf&gt;

Penrith City Council, Bin Services. Penrith City, viewed 31 March 2017, <https://www.penrithcity.nsw.gov.au/Waste-and-Environment/Waste/Bin-services/#What%20can%20I%20put%20in%20the%20organics%20bin?&gt;