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.


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, < >

Group 5: A Long-Term Education Plan for UTS


Our group goal: Reducing contamination of organic waste in UTS public space bins to just 2-5% through education.

This will require a shift in our key stakeholders, the tutor’s and student’s, habits and perceptions of waste and we aim to achieve this through a long-term 4 step education plan that starts small but grows as interest builds and changes become more readily accepted throughout the university. We decided on designing an education plan because it is very important that the positive waste practices spread further than just UTS. We want tutors and students to start thinking about better waste management in their homes, workplaces, sporting clubs etc. and only through education will we achieve this.

Drawing from our own immensely positive learning experiences over the short period doing this Wealth from Waste subject, students and tutors becoming more aware of the waste system at UTS and their place within that system will be able to take a step up from their current waste practices. Those who had no knowledge around their waste should start to take notice and care in how they dispose of their waste and those people who sometimes use the correct bins should become people who want to always act in the most sustainable way.

Step 1 The Ambassador – appointing an ambassador who will be the driving force behind the waste education plan. UTS:Green and Seb Crawford, Sustainability Coordinator, are very keen to push for green, sustainable implementations such as this one.

Step 2 Staff Education Day – before the educators can teach students how to correctly manage their waste they need to care and be confident in their own knowledge, for this to happen the tutors need to be made aware of the waste system. They will learn the general organic waste facts, the UTS waste system and their role within it, hear talks from other UTS staff members with experience and knowledge of waste and go on a virtual tour of the UTS organic waste system.

Step 3- Putting Waste into Student Assignments – with the tutors made aware of the importance of waste management they can begin to alter student assignments to include better waste practices and understanding. Altering assignments undertaken by students during the first semester of the first year is critical to ensure each new group of students coming through the university starts with good knowledge of positive waste practices. Assignments can be tweaked just slightly to include some emphasis on waste. Examples of small changes to existing assignments include: the composting of old natural textiles for the fashion school subject Thinking Fashion; rubbish bin way finding in public arenas for IPD’s Inside Design subject; and the collection of waste to be used in the Ways of Seeing subject’s poster design for both UTS:Insearch Design Diploma and Visual Communication students.

Step 4- Ongoing Education and Promotion – the designs and data created by students in these altered assignments can be used as further educational materials on future staff education days and around the university campus to keep the positive waste management message fresh and help ensure the continual interest in creating a greener, more sustainable UTS.

The roll out of this plan is ongoing and will be revisited every year through the tutors teaching the students classes with waste-centred assignments and continual staff education days overseen by the championing organisation UTS:Green.


By Caitlin, James, Yan, Laura


Less Excuses, More Solutions

Over the past three posts, I have researched various strategies for waste management including a range of methods for data collection, data analysis, changing perceptions and understanding existing systems and industries. Along with this, I have given two examples of positive outcomes of carefully considered organic waste management which, alongside environmental obligations, has also brought financial benefits to the organisations willing to seek alternative solutions. In this post I will develop and propose an alternative organic waste management system to rival that of the current Woolworths system.


Woolworths currently process organic waste through the Earth Power system which comprises of processing waste and moving it to a facility to eventually be used for generating electricity; which, in turn, generates enough electricity to power around  145 houses per year.

Although this is a successful outcome for Woolworths, there will still be a variety of positive ways that the company can handle their organic waste. One interesting alternative would be to process and utilise their organic waste on site. Many Woolworths facilities have plant life in the car-park and surrounding areas which would benefit greatly from a constant supply of rich soil compost. Furthermore, the plant life would contribute to a positive brand image given the Woolworths tag line (the fresh food people) where having booming gardens before you enter the store.

woolworths plantsImage 1 – Showing ideal woolworths store aesthetic including gardens.

This solution would require a closed system on each site comprising of collection, processing, storage and maintenance infrastructure. This would not be un-achievable and more than likely reduce costs in various areas such as landfill fees and garden upkeep. The overall system would be based off a residential composting cycle, scaled up to deal with the mass quantities of organic waste produced by a major supermarket chain.

Collection Points – This could be as simple as plastic tubs to immediately contain the food scraps in a clean container.

Processing – This could be designed with consideration to the plastic tubs. A modular approach could be used where each tub was stacked in a way that eventually (15-20 tubs) would form their own compost tower. The tower, without any additions, could begin the composting cycle with new tubs added to the top and completed tubs taken from the bottom. A date stamp would need to be considered at this stage to keep track of the time required for compost to break down.

Storage – I believe with this approach, the storage would be inherent in the design. There may be multiple towers to cope with demand and this could be scaled up and down to mirror Woolworths occasional boom in sales (Christmas and Easter). An oversupply of processed compost could be given, or sold to the community.

Maintenance – This system would require careful management from an employee, ideally employed to oversee the entire organic waste system from management of tub towers, time stamping, cleaning and restocking tubs and spreading the produced soil to necessary gardens. This position would most likely struggle to fill a full time schedule, even with mass quantities, and therefore may be suitable as part of the tasks allocated to the site landscaper.

modular compostImage 2 – Example of residential modular compost system.


Woolworths have an opportunity to process and utilise organic waste on site. This closed system would significantly reduce the overall management required to deal with externally processed organic waste largely due to eliminating logistic requirements. The system would benefit the look and appeal of the Woolworths stores by providing excellent plant life in car parks as well as demonstrating smart alternatives not unlike the methods used by the farmers that provide Woolworths with produce.






Image 1 – Illawarra Mercury, Parking to double for Wollongong Woolies, viewed on 14 June 2016, <>.


Image 2 – Susana Forum, Toilet paper C:N ratio (carbon to nitrogen ratio) for composting processes, viewed on 14 June 2016, <>.

Aggressive Progression

My previous post discussed the critical importance and value of quality data. In this post I will be conducting a critical review of existing organic waste management from two major sources; Woolworths and the Sydney Fish Markets. Both businesses have their specific needs in regards to collection, movement, processing and removal of organic waste.


Woolworths are one of the main grocery providers in Australia. This inevitably will generate an enormous amount of organic waste from each of their stores. In addition to this, the value of reducing their waste can significantly impact the business not only from a community perspective but also from a cost point of view. “Waste audits undertaken at a selection of our stores and distribution centres over the last year show that a large proportion of the waste that we send to landfill is organic material that could be used for another purpose. Around 56 percent of the waste from supermarkets and 28 percent from distribution centres (by weight) could be diverted to a beneficial end use” (Woolworths Limited 2015).

This encourages Woolworths to find alternative ways of dealing with organic waste and possibly turing waste into a valuable resource: ” Since November 2006, over 4,860 tonnes of organic waste from our supermarkets has been processed at EarthPower, generating 1,230 MWh or enough renewable energy to power around 145 houses.” (Woolworths Limited 2015).

woolworths waste

Image 1 – Pie chart showing total waste by category.

Sydney Fish Markets are another large business that produces immense quantities of organic waste. In fact they produce 13,000 tonnes of seafood product per year (Sydney Fish Market Annual Report 2015). This, in turn, generates substantial quantities of organic waste which would drastically impact their bottom line if it was simply sent to landfill. Fortunately, fish waste can be converted into a valuable by-product. “Hydrolysed fish waste can be composted with rock phosphate to form an organic/biological solidphosphate fertiliser. To enable this, relationships need to be formed between seafood industry and fertiliser manufacturers” (Knuckey 2002). Which raises an important point; who are the resulting parties relied upon for the management system to function correctly.

sydney fish marketImage 2 – High volume of seafood product sold at Sydney Fish Markets.

Key parties in large scale waste management systems may include equipment providers, logistics providers and waste processors. However, vital contributors to organic waste management solutions could include manufacturers of product that need your by-product. Depending on the situation, the organic waste may not be waste at all and, in fact, ‘produce’. I’m sure oil companies don’t refer to virgin polymer moulding material as ‘waste’!


To sum up, it would be of great value to recognise existing organic waste (produce) management solutions so as developments can be made in light of a proven system. This strategy can also help to facilitate development progress by way of reduced investment risk, which in most cases, will be a major hurdle to overcome. However, unproven systems should always be considered for the benefit of innovation in the field. For this reason, my next post will investigate an alternate ways to manage organic waste for one of the stated businesses.






Knuckey 2002, Utilisation of seafood processing waste – challenges and opportunities, p, viewed 14 June 2016, <;.

Sydney Fish Market 2015, Annual Report 2015, p. 33, viewed 11 June 2016, <;.

Woolworths Limited 2015, Doing the Right Thing, Sustainability Strategy 2007 – 2015, p. 26, viewed 14 June 2015, <;.

Woolworths Limited 2015, Doing the Right Thing, Sustainability Strategy 2007 – 2015, p. 27, viewed 14 June 2015, <;.



Image 1 – Woolworths Limited 2015, Doing the Right Thing, Sustainability Strategy 2007 – 2015, p. 26, viewed 14 June 2015, <;.

Image 2 – Sydney Fish Market 2015, The Christmas Catch!, Dailymail Australia, Getty Images, Viewed on 14 June 2016, <>.

Data Deconstruction

My last post talked about the significant importance of material separation at waste collection points. A focused approach on waste separation, while reducing general waste and improving quality of recycled materials, can also result substantial cost reductions. This is due to the expensive waste processing costs which are inevitably passed onto the consumer. Less processing = less cost. Although waste separation may be a suitable solution in the researched setting, it may not be the right solution in the real world where many unseen factors contribute to the way a society handles waste.

In this post, I will talk about the research and data analysis methods used in my study and highlight where these methods may need further development in order to successfully translate into conceptualised solutions.


Before deciding on an appropriate research method, we should have a complete understanding of the waste management services available to us regardless of popularity or effectiveness. My household waste research is limited to landfill which, although common, considerably understates the entirety of the industry. The waste industry, with the help of much-needed government funding for grants and innovation in the field, is a complex network of competing businesses including equipment hire and sales, logistics, planning, processing and brokerage of all things. Yes, in industrial settings, waste management companies such as Veolia, Sita, Cleanaway and ReSource will compete to remove waste (for a cost) and pass onto landfill (for a slightly lower cost). Ahh, capitalism. Because of this complexity, a well-considered solution should take into account the comprehensive array of potential avenues available to us. An example of commercial waste management services can be seen in the video on the front page of the ReSource website (ReSource Environmental Solutions 2012).


Image 1 – Artistic parody of throwing money away.

My household research was also limiting in regards to data collection and analysis. The waste produced by a single person over the period of 24 hours will generate a considerably small sample size when data can only reflect output waste over that particular day. For example, my data did not show a milk carton in my waste. Analysis of this would suggest that I do not drink milk at all, which is untrue. Additional to this, the products in my personal waste reflect only what resides in my household. Many other items of my daily consumption contribute to landfill such as the coffee grinds from my coffee which, in this case, the waste would be the responsibility of the coffee shop where it was purchased. This is in contrast to a high-rise office setting where the coffee could potentially be produced and consumed within the one waste management system. In short, small sample data collection can produce information that is largely irrelevant on a mass scale.

It is also important to recognise the type of waste produced as certain materials require completely different management strategies. In some cases, the waste may need to be processed on site before being moved and in other cases, waste can be converted into usable material on site without the need for external processing, excluding it from landfill altogether. This can be commonly seen in organic waste management, where large buildings can separate and successfully utilise compost produced by a closed system. It is also not surprising to see organic materials as one of the highest contributors to household waste. “Around 50% of household waste and 30% of all waste we throw away is organic” (Environmental Protection Authority 2016).


Image 2 – Valuable soil can easily be produced from organic waste.


To conclude, we can see that there is a complex landscape within the waste industry which requires careful consideration before attempting to conceptualise a solution. Following this post, I would like to explore the possibilities of organic waste management and how we can tackle the perceptions of the past.





Environmental Protection Authority 2016, Organic Waste, viewed on 14 June 2016, <>.

Resource Environmental Solutions 2012, why we are different, videorecording, viewed 14 June 2016, <>.



Image 1 – Inciyildirim 2014, Recycle Organic Waste, WordPress, viewed on 14 June 2016, <>.

Image 2 – Roots SA 2011, Media buying is not for the faint hearted, viewed on 14 June 2016, <>.