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.

Screen Shot 2017-05-11 at 5.38.51 PM
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.

References

The British Monarchy, 2011, “Highgroves: Discover its sustainable secrets”, Youtube video, England, viewed 10th June 2017, <https://youtu.be/OAbeYk_vSaI >

Environment Canada, 2013, “Technical Document on Municipal Solid Waste Organics Process”, Canada, viewed 17th April 2017, <http://www.compost.org/English/PDF/Technical_Document_MSW_Organics_Processing_2013.pdf >

International Sustainability Unit, 2011, “What Price Resilience? Towards sustainable and secure food systems“, UK, viewed 10th June 2017, <http://pcfisu.org/wp-content/uploads/pdfs/TPC0632_Resilience_report_WEB11_07_SMALLER.pdf >

International Sustainability Unit, 2015, “Food in an urbanised world“, UK, viewed 10th June 2017, <http://www.pcfisu.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/CRFS-7-April-10-.zip >

Prince of Wales, 2017, “The Royal Gardens“, Clarence House, England, viewed 10th June 2017, <https://www.princeofwales.gov.uk/features/the-royal-gardens >

UTS, n.d., “UTS Waste Management Plan“, UTS, Sydney, viewed 18th March 2017, <https://www.uts.edu.au/sites/default/files/WASTE_MANAGEMENT_PLAN.140301.pdf >

UTS Green, 2017, “Waste and recycling | University of Technology Sydney“, UTS, Sydney, viewed 17th April 2017, <https://www.uts.edu.au/partners-and-community/initiatives/uts-green/campus-operations/waste-and-recycling >

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, <https://www.uts.edu.au/research-and-teaching/our-research/institute-sustainable-futures/our-research/food-futures/food >

POST A: 24 hour Organic Waste Audit

When conducting this audit it became quite clear that there was many areas of the waste process that were almost seamlessly invisible, potentially impacting how we approach our individual waste.

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I live in an apartment complex on the fifth level. In our complex there is a bin room on the garage basement level with 20 red regular bins, 15 yellow recycling bins and just 2 green bins. Sorting waste into the three categories is definitely a choice not always taken. At home I try my best to have all three bins, however, sometimes other members of the house don’t always follow the three bins or create them themselves or sometimes I don’t if I am tired and become more lazier. Once bins are full there then becomes the act of transporting them down to the basement bin room and sorting them into the different coloured bins. Once again, it would be easy for anyone to just put all their waste into one bin without sorting. Each unit pays strata fees and with this there is a person hired with the job of taking all the bins out to the street the day before the council garbage collection and bringing them back in and washing them down. The audit highlighted how the sorting of waste takes effort for the individual. We as humans naturally aspire for ease and much of the waste process is made easier through not categorising and having other people take care of it almost invisibly for our individual and community comfort.


After the reaching the act of the weekly council garbage pickup I felt as if I was guessing what comes next as i’ve never seen it. I can only speculate that the garbage transported away to some sort of sorting process, hopefully finding ways to recycle, reuse or minimize the waste, and/or then to landfill somewhere far far away. This unknowing is unsettling. We constantly hear  that our society and world has big issues with waste processes and landfills rising, however, without the visibility of the issue and direct daily impact there is definitely the easy, comforting stance of ‘“if I can’t see it then it’s not there.” I would love to better understand the post garbage collection and see if somehow the visibility of the process would change my own behaviours.

 

Book Launch Audit

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During our second Wealth to Waste class we attended the book launch and 20th Anniversary for the Institute of Sustainable Futures and were asked to audit the event. Undertaking the audit highlighted how there is a lot of work and factors that goes into creating an event such as this. Food and drink would appear from staff members, refilling frequently, attentive to the guests. Behind the bar, glass and plastic bottles were recycling into bins and half eaten food was taken away and refilled to a nicer aesthetic. It is very easy to just see and consume in the luxuries of the celebrating, however, as we audited we noticed the staff entering from and exiting to a door right at the back of the room in a corner. One can only assume that behind this door there was a complete work mode in place with food storage, kitchens, event managers, cleaning going on creating the beauty and harmonious flow of the event.

 

References

Singer. L, 2015, video recording, TEDxTeen, viewed 2 April 2017, <https://www.tedxteen.com/talks/why-i-live-a-zero-waste-life-lauren-singer&gt;

University of Technology Sydney, 2013, Waste Management Plan 2013-2015, Sydney, Viewed 2 April 2017 <https://www.uts.edu.au/sites/default/files/WASTE_MANAGEMENT_PLAN.140301.pdf&gt;

Australian Government, Department of the Environment and Energy 2010, Understanding Your Waste Stream: Food and Organics Best Practice Collection Mannual, Department of the Environment and Energy, Canberra

 

 

A. The Audit

Waste Audit
• Conduct and draw a 1 day organic waste audit of all the ‘organic waste’ you produce over a 24 hour period

Step 1: Record Info:
– Container from leftover food
– Mac & Cheese Wrapper
– Hungry Jacks Bag
– Corn Kernels Tin
– Tuna Can
– Tea Bags x2
– Pizza Boxes x2
– Beer Bottle
– Empty Tissue Box
– Apple Core x2
– Banana peels
– Carrot Peel
– Wilted Lettuce
– Empty Water Bottle
– Tissues/ Paper Towels
– Used Baking Paper

Step 2: Organise Findings

General Waste Recyclables Organic Waste
Container from leftover food hungry jacks bag tea bags
mac & cheese wrapper corn kernels tin apple core
pizza boxes tuna can banana peels
tissues/ paper towel beer bottle carrot peels
used baking paper empty tissue box wilted lettuce
empty water bottle

Step 3: Review Results

After collecting this data, I thought it would be best to categorise my findings into sub-groups bases on their environmental compatibility. I chose the titles: General Waste, Recyclables and Organic Waste. I then made various google searches in order to validate my separation of items into each category:
Are Tea Bags organic waste?
Can pizza boxes be recycled?
Do Tin cans have to be washed before recycled?

Here’s what I found:
Tea Bags are classified as organic waste
Pizza boxes can only be recalled if they have not be soiled by oil from its’ contents
Tin cans, containers and other recycling material doesn’t have to be washed but it’s best to give it a quick rinse prior to recycling.

Step 4: Reflect

Within a standard 24-hour weekday period, a maximum of 2 meals would have been shared at home. Typically a home cooked dinner prepared by my mum – anything from a hearty bowl of soup, pasta, meat or fish with sides. Considering our Italian heritage, pasta makes a consistent appearance on our menu, complimented by meats and home-grown tomato salads. The day on which this data was collected, however, was a quiet one at home. My parents are overseas for a month and therefore, there has been a substantial increase of take-away and microwave meals. My family consists of Father, Mother, Two brothers and myself. 3 uni students juggling work, assignments, sports and social lives leaves little to no time at home. For this reason, very little organic waste was collected on this day.

Canapé Food Audit

On Wednesday the 22nd of March, Ali’s Lab B ‘Wealth From Waste’ Class was invited to attend the 20th Anniversary and Book Launch celebrations for the Institute of Sustainable Futures. We were asked to audit the catering services of the event, including the bar and canapé provisions. Upon entrance, we noticed that staff members were carrying trays of food and drinks around the event. Food was also placed on 3 tall bar tables located in the centre of the function room. Each table contained a big bowl of hummus, olive tapenade and mini vegetables made to look like a garden bed, as well as a menu and serviettes. From this point, we were able to notice the staff members entering the room from a back entrance where we suspected food was being stored. We also noticed that the bowls were being taken off the tables once most of the vegetables were taken, despite the copious amount of hummus left in the bottom. At the bar, drinks were being poured in advanced and left to be taken by the wait staff. Glass and plastic bottles were being put into recycling bins located behind the bar.

FullSizeRenderIMG_8058IMG_8057

References

Government of South Australia, GREEN ORGANICS BIN – Some simple tips on how to Recycle Right, South Australia, viewed 1st April 2017, < http://www.zerowaste.sa.gov.au/upload/facts-sheets/recycleright-factsheet.pdf>.

Stanford University, Frequently Asked Questions: Contamination, Palo Alto CA, viewed 1st April 2017, <https://lbre.stanford.edu/pssistanford-recycling/frequently-asked-questions/frequently-asked-questions-contamination>.

Government of Victoria, Frequently Asked Questions, Victoria, viewed 3rd April 2017, <http://www.getitrightbinnight.vic.gov.au/how-to-get-it-right/faq/>.

Environment Australia 1999, Organics Market Development Strategy, Canberra, viewed 3rd April 2017, <http://www.environment.gov.au/archive/settlements/publications/waste/organics/strategy/>.

Waste Net 2016, Organic Waste, Western Australia, viewed 3rd April 2017, <http://www.wastenet.net.au/organic-waste.aspx>.

Post A:Organic waste audit

Introduction

Dealing with waste is getting more serious for the modern society. It is about our planet and off-springs. Everyone produces waste especially during eating. $8-$10 billion of food is wasted in Australia every year. Eating might looks simple but there is a tremendous process to support the whole industry chain. I have recorded my one day organic food waste audit to briefly show what is my daily organic waste; how to deal with and finally to evaluate different criteria to solve different situations in the future.

Me and foodfood

I only buy what I need in 2 days, so I go shopping food quite frequent. I divide my food to 3 main kinds which are fruits and vegetables for vitamins, carbohydrates for energy and protein sources. Because I go to the gym 6 times a week, so I eat quite clean which means a low salt and sugar, almost no additional fat diet. I have been followed the very rigorous routine for 2 years(I have cheat days sometimes). I eat 4-5 meals a day which is a little bit different to other people.

IMG_20170403_230001my meals in 1 day

I barely waste cooked food, but some food in the fridge might be wasted. For example, I don’t like very sweet bananas. If there are black dots on a banana, I will throw them into the bin. Sometimes, some food just looks not good, but still eatable, they might also be wasted too. The scraps of food such as shells, peels and bones are the main organic waste in my daily life. They cannot be reusable. The best way to disposal them is to compost the scraps to reuse them. But I have no other option to deal with them, especially when I’m living in an apartment. Sorting the waste is better for disposal than mixing everything up.

Appendages

The waste of appendages during shopping and using is also a serious problem to solve. Every time during shopping, so many plastic bags will be wasted, small green bags for bulk food, big grey bags to carry items. Some of the plastic bags are recyclable, but most of them have to be land filed. The oven is my favorite kitchenware, but every time a piece of aluminum foil is needed. Although aluminum foil is recyclable, but it need to be cleaned. Used aluminum foil is unrecyclable. For me, the biggest part of organic waste is the appendants. They might be not ‘organic’, but they come with everyday’s consumption.4

too many apendages

Personal behaviors

Our personal behaviors are also important to drive the way of waste. Shopping without thinking is normal to all of us, which could cause unnecessary waste. Saving food is also saving money. During shopping, a carry bag can replace plastic bags, and also it works in cafes with own cups. Reducing use of oven could save one-off aluminum foils. Calculate daily calorie intake is another way to avoid organic waste. The average adult daily intake is around 2000 Calories, and it also depends on the age and body weight. After I get used to this, I can estimate how much food do I need for the next meal.

 Evaluation & Conclusion

According to the UTS waste manage plan-the waste hierarchy, I have list 4 ways to avoid organic waste.

Reduce: Not buying unnecessary food is a basic way to void waste.

Reuse: Shopping with own bags to carry items; Organic waste can be fertilizer for plants.

Recycling: Buy food with recyclable packages; Use recyclable products such as wooden chopsticks if no other option.

Disposal: the last and less favored option.

3
the organic wastes and solutions

Book launch

less waste, less energy cost, new strategy.

References

ABC NEWS 2013, Do Australians waste $8 billion worth of edible food each year?, Sydney, viewed 2 April 2017, < http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-10-08/food-waste-value-australia/4993930&gt;.

Australian Goverment 2015, EAT FOR HEALTH CALCULATORS, Canberra, Viewed 2 April 2017, < https://www.eatforhealth.gov.au/eat-health-calculators&gt;.

Government of South Australia, Four easy ways to recycle your food scraps, Perth, Viewed 3 April 2017, < https://www.charlessturt.sa.gov.au/webdata/resources/files/Food_Composting_Brochure.pdf&gt;.

OZHARVEST 2013, Sydney, viewed 1 April 2017, < http://www.ozharvest.org/what-we-do/environment-facts/?gclid=Cj0KEQjw5YfHBRDzjNnioYq3_swBEiQArj4pdPxlRp0Mggy9kQ-GjkkFmGPIXp_v-51-jZYAZlyYcnwaAnn_8P8HAQ&gt;.

UTS 2013, WASTE MANAGE PLAN 2013-2015, Sydney, Viewed 22 March 2017, <https://www.uts.edu.au/sites/default/files/WASTE_MANAGEMENT_PLAN.140301.pdf&gt;.