D. A Lit Review

As a means of gathering information about Organic Waste solutions, our group researched other educational institutions and explored the ways in which they are tackling similar issues.

Upon investigation, the University of Illinois came to our attention. The University strives to create environmentally responsible dining within their facility via methods of sustainable sourcing and waste reduction. This can be seen in their alliance with larger environmental bodies such as the EPA, Zero Percent and Lean Path. Their attempts have been largely successful and have ultimately earned them recognition with awards such as the 2015 Governor’s Sustainability Award, and the  2015 Sustainability in Waste Management Award (The University of Illinois 2017).

One main point of interest that arose from this research was the option to donate food when it is in excess. This can be seen in their contribution to Pantry and Foodbank programs across areas including Urbana and Ranoul (The University of Illinois 2017). This discovery sparked the conversation about food sharing amongst our group and eventually informed our final concept.

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) encourages organisations to pledge support to their initiatives such as the Food Recovery Challenge (FRC). The University of Illinois, amongst other institutions, have sought to take part in this challenge by rethinking their relationship with food in its’ various stages. The processes of extraction, manufacturing, distribution, use, reuse and disposal of food can display numerous points of intervention to be addressed with hope to reduce waste. The Food Recovery Hierarchy (United State Environmental Protection Agency 2016) is used as a reference to prioritise actions and prevent or divert wasted food. This system places source reduction and donations with the highest precedence and thus, further informed our decision to explore food sharing as a solution to Organic Waste.




In addition to this, Zero Percent is an organisation that aims to bridge the gap between the abundance and scarcity of food in the US. Their testimonial expresses that they “help put good surplus food to the best use” (Zero Percent n.d) which ultimately allows partnering institutions to recognise that their support is genuinely required and will make a difference to those in need.




Furthermore, as a means of decreasing food waste, the University of Illinois has invested in a system that will monitor their current levels of food waste. The technology behind ‘Lean Path’ allows businesses to accurately record the amount of produce that is being diverted to waste on a daily basis and within multiple sectors of their establishment (Lean Path 2017). This ultimately allows them to quantify and locate areas within their business that are lacking in economic design which can then be resolved. They also boast the ability to cut a businesses’ food expenses by 6% (Lean Path 2017), and thus, appeal to large institutions who are concerned with their excess food waste.



As demonstrated by The University of Illinois, Organic Waste is a Wicked Problem (Buchanan 1992) which cannot be simply solved via one solution, yet is approached from numerous directions. It is a complex issue which encompasses a profound amount of stakeholders and external relating issues. It is therefore important that institutions such as universities acknowledge these facts and attempt to address the multiple facets it entails.

Reference List:

The University of Illinois 2017, Sustainability in Dining, Illinois, viewed 17 June 2017, <http://www.housing.illinois.edu/dining/about-dining/sustainability>.

United State Environmental Protection Agency 2016, Food Recovery Challenge (FRC), viewed 17 June 2017, <https://www.epa.gov/sustainable-management-food/food-recovery-challenge-frc>.

Zero Percent n.d. Our Impact, Chicago, viewed 17 June 2017,< http://www.zeropercent.us/>.

Lean Path 2017, What is Lean Path?, Orlando, viewed 17 June 2017, <http://www.leanpath.com/how-it-works/>.

Buchanan, R. 1992, ‘Wicked Problems in Design Thinking.’ Design Issues, vol. 8, no. 2, pp. 14-15.


C. Research Methods

Research is a highly instrumental component of any task which should be completed consistently across its’ development. The understanding that “the purpose of research is to inform actions” (Unite for Sight 2015) can be observed within a multitude of circumstances. Spanning from simplistic behavioural properties, humankind has long been using primal research methods in order to develop themselves as a specie. This concept has been implemented within the realm of education whereby students re-contexualise their findings and thus, expand the implications of original data.

Research as a process must be iterative and cyclical (Unite for Sight 2015) in order for it to in turn be transformative and thorough. Varying research methods allow this to occur and ultimately dictate the perspective from which certain topics are ascertained.

Upon beginning the design brief, our group generated a list of methods from which we would draw upon as a means of gathering primary and secondary information to inform our proceeding actions. Though successful research can be considered somewhat serendipitous, (The University of Western Australia 2012) the pragmatic stigma that constitutes the highest quality of information can be accounted for by the methods chosen in relation to the desired outcome.      

Observation is a systematic data collection approach (Cohen D, Crabtree B 2006) which takes place on site and is subjective to the participants’ sensory experiences. This method initiated the data collection process for our design brief as it allowed us to obtain contextual data which would ultimately form the basis of our outcome. Observation allowed us to accurately locate the issue at hand within the constraints of UTS Housing and enabled us to locate physical points of intervention for our outcome.

Literature reviews inherently consider the stance of others on a particular topic, from which, readers would deduct their own perspectives and apply this newfound knowledge to their individual projects. This method therefore effectively informed us about organic waste and the psycho-analytic use of technology as we were able to use statistics and facts to support our arguments.

Mapping the existing Organic Waste systems in place at UTS was a highly effective research method for this task as it enabled us to identify influencing factors such as infrastructure and stakeholders. It also allowed us to visualise the acquisition and disposal processes used by students living in UTS housing in order for us to determine points of intervention.



In addition to this, surveying students allowed us to generate “real world observations” (Kelley et al. 2003) from a predetermined set of students. This was especially helpful as we were able to gain insights from our target users in order to adequately tailor our design solution to their needs. Furthermore, when completed correctly, surveying allows researchers to obtain data from a “representative sample” (Kelley et al. 2003) which can be generalised to a greater population in order to increase efficiency in workflow and expand the breadth from which information is obtained.


In summary, research is a crucial stage in any design process. Varying research methods also affect the type of data that is collected and how it can be used. This knowledge was highly useful to our group as we were able to identify research methods that would be most beneficial to our process, desired outcome and targeted users.

Reference List:

Unite for Sight 2015, Module 6: The Importance of Research, Connecticut, viewed 13 June 2017, <http://www.uniteforsight.org/research-methodology/module6>.

The University of Western Australia 2012, The importance of academic research, Perth, viewed 13 June 2017, <http://www.news.uwa.edu.au/201203194542/vice-chancellor/importance-academic-research>.

Cohen D, Crabtree B 2006, Qualitative Research Guidelines Project: Observation, New Jersey, viewed 13 June, <http://www.qualres.org/HomeObse-3594.html>.

Kelley, K., Clark, B., Brown, V. & Sitzia, J. 2003, ‘Good practice in the conduct and reporting of survey research’, International Journal for Quality in Health Care, vol. 15, no. 3, pp. 261-6.

Assessments 2017


40% (Individual)

4 x blog posts, 400 words each + 2 comments on the posts of other students. These blog posts don’t have to be submitted in order, but you do need to tag them appropriately CATEGORY “PostA” “PostB” “PostC” or “PostD”.

Tag your article with as many appropriate and relevant keywords, such as “compost”, “service design”, “plastic”, “bacteria”, “stakeholders” etc. as you see fit.

All references and images must be hyperlinked to the source (if online) using in text referencing and also listed in full at the bottom of the post (as per standard academic practice). http://www.lib.uts.edu.au/help/referencing/harvard-uts-referencing-guide

Since your articles will be visible to the public upon submission, it would be best to write your post in a Word document first and have somebody proofread your writing before uploading. If you use a pseudonym, please let us know so we can find your work. Do NOT publish your student number.

Use of images:

  • Each post must have at least one accompanying image, which may be an illustration or drawing, collage or compilation of images, a single image from a referenced source, or a text quote graphic in jpeg format.
  • Keep image quality in mind – images should be a minimum of 600px wide, since the main column width is 656, except in the full-width template, where it’s 937.

Due: Completed posts are due June 19th at 9am. There are also interim due dates during session.

POST A: Conduct and draw a 1 day organic waste audit of all the ‘organic waste’ you produce over a 24 hour period – You may use images, text, photos etc. but you must use drawing of some kind. Also include your first attempt at an food waste audit – the canapé audit at the UTS book launch.

POST B: Reflection on your group’s caddie design and group charter for assessment 2a. How can different design disciplines contribute to organic waste solutions? Why is it important to include designers in the management of organic waste? What contribution does design make to thinking about systems? to changing systems? to inventing systems?

POST C: Reflect on data methods you have investigated and how they contribute to addressing your project brief.

POST D: Conduct a literature review of systems of organic waste management. What institutions and/or organisations are managing their organic waste locally/internationally? Include web links, how you found this information, why is it relevant? and include reports and good quality data. Include at least one more in-depth research on one of these systems.


A blog post has a title, an introduction, a structure, high quality images (credited and attributed), and references. It is well organized and visually appealing.

Each post needs to include 3 references. The quality of your references will be assessed.

See subject outline for assessment CRITERIA.


GROUP DESIGN: Waste Caddie (brief from EPA in week 2): 10% (Group Work)

This will be your first go at working in your interdisciplinary group. You will present a design. It could be a mock up, a video, a poster etc. Each group has 5-7 minutes to present.

You will present your design in class with your Group Charter in class. Include in your presentations:

  • a reflection on your group process
  • what each of you contributed
  • what you would do differently next time
  • an explanation of how your design fits into a broader system of waste management.


Design Project: 40% (Group Work)

For this project you will work in teams. Each team will consist of 4-5 UTS students.

You will generate your own brief in consultation with your teachers and address the brief with a collaborative design. There are 3 submission points:

  • To a panel of experts on Friday June 7th, 8 minute presentations.
  • You will also need to post your project to the class blog (1 post per group). This should be an abbreviated form of your presentation (600 words maximum), and posted under the category label “PROJECT”.

Your project will involve extensive research. Your research may include:

  • Observing, drawing, mapping, photographing, sound recording, inhabiting or any other method of discovering
  • Interviews with people, including students and staff
  • Investigation of original sources (such as design documentation, reviews, plans, oral histories, this may involve investigation in the library, archives or museums)
  • Investigation of secondary sources including websites, books, reports, catalogues and scholarly articles.
  • You should develop a strong and persuasive rationale for your design which will form part of your final verbal presentation.

ASSESSMENT 3: DUE JUNE 21, 2017 by email

Reflection 10% (Individual)

600 words

Write a cover letter for a job you REALLY want as a designer at the Environmental Protection Agency. Address it correctly.

Include the skills and competencies gained though your involvement in the Wealth From Waste studio. Include an anecdote about how you developed these (i.e. Where did it happen? who was involved? and what changed for you (if anything)?)

You might to want to refer to ‘transdisciplinary practice’,
‘interdisciplinary design’, ‘design research’, ‘systems thinking’ and
‘mapping’, ‘collaboration’, ‘planning and management of group process’ etc.
Give specific examples. Be professional. Email your letter to your studio leaders.


Week by Week Schedule

We meet on Wednesdays 3pm-6pm.

WK 1 (Mar 15)

1. Introduction to the studio.
2. Using the Class Blog.
4. Introduction to teams.

WK 2 (Mar 22)

1. Being in the canapé system – Book launch and food waste exercise
2. Defining ‘Organics’
3. Introduction to EPA competition (assessment 2a)


WK 3 (Mar 29)

1. How to Conduct a Waste Audit as a designer: Guest lecture by Lucas Ilhein
2. Feminist approaches to Ecology, Technology, Labour and Ecology (Alexandra Crosby)


WK 4 (Apr 5)

1. Expert Panel Discussion (New Room for this class: CB1.18.030)
2. Walk through UTS Organics system
3. Post A Due: One Day Waste Audit


WK 5 (Apr 12)

1. Systems thinking lecture and exercise (Dena Fam) (New Room : CB10.04.460)
2. Studio work


WK 6 (Apr 19) New Room:CB07.03.010D (Health Bld)

1. Caddie design and group charter presentation (assessment 2a)
2. Using critical thinking to write a design brief


  • Read Ulrich, W. (2000). Reflective practice in the civil society: the contribution of critically systemic thinking. Reflective Practice 1, no. 2: 247-268. Available at UTS library 
  • Browse Critical Thinking Heuristics

WK 7 (May 3) CB07.03.010D (Health Bld)

1. Lecture: Research Methods (Alexandra Crosby & Dena Fam)
2. The ‘Mapping Organics’ research methodology


  • Make a list of every research method you have used in your degree so far
  • Consider all your course subjects as well as Design Thinking, Researching Design History, Interdisciplinary Lab A
  • Start with www.utsdesignindex.com
  • Bring a draft of your groups design brief to class to check with Dena and Ali

WK 8 (May 9) CB07.03.010D (Health Bld)

Group presentations on Research methods and Post B is due today

  • Reflect on the research methods and how they will contribute to developing your design
  • Think about why you’ve chosen these research methods, why and how you’ve used them.


WK 9 (May 17) CB07.03.010D (Health Bld)

Framing the Organics project: Introduction to Planetary Boundaries & the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) (Katie Ross)





WK 10 (May 24)

Field Trip – Veolia tour


WK 11 (May 31) CB11.04.102 (Engineering Bld)

Studio week/consultations

WK 12 (Jun 7) CB07.03.010D (Health Bld)

Group Design presentations (assessment 2b)

WK A1 (Jun 19)

Research Portfolio/Blogposts due (assessment 1)

FINAL ASSESSMENT 3, reflection: DUE JUNE 21, 2017