South Melbourne Market's worm poo and on-site composting an award-winning mix

22 February 2018

Staff from South Melbourne Market accept their award

The South Melbourne Market’s work to recycle tonnes of food, vegetable and other waste, and other sustainable practices is cutting business costs and greenhouses gas emissions.

The market, won the Institute of Public Affairs Australia’s Victorian Environmental Sustainability Award, sponsored by Sustainability Victoria in Melbourne last night.

“As community expectations about environmental sustainability grows and waste disposal costs rise, it’s clear that the South Melbourne’s market is hitting the mark on both counts,” Sustainability Victoria CEO Stan Krpan said.

“The South Melbourne Market’s comprehensive program could be applied to other markets and shopping centres, not just in Melbourne, but around Australia,” Mr Krpan said.

“The City of Port Phillip, market management and the businesses that operate there are doing a great job to reduce the amount of waste going to landfills, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and helping vulnerable people in the community.”

Outstanding performance

  • The market processed around 400 cubic metres of green waste in 2016/17 (equivalent to more than 22 garbage trucks) through a worm farm creating Market Magic, a mix of worm poo and mushroom compost which is sold at the market
  • The market also has a fast-working Gaia recycling unit which turns 8.4 tonnes of food and other waste into compost, also sold at the market, every week. Over a year, the weight recycled is equivalent to 20 Melbourne trams.
  • An onsite bottle crusher processes 15 tonnes of glass each year - 80 per cent is recycled into bottles and 20 per cent is used in road base and as a paint additive. Recycling this glass reduces CO2 emissions equivalent to that created by a family car being driven 31,000 kms.
  • Approximately 10,800 litres of oil was collected from the Market in 2016-17. Most is turned into biodiesel which is used in the vehicles which collect it
  • Polystyrene boxes are compressed into bricks which are made into a wide range of plastic products like CD cases, coat hangers, picture frames, toys, and pens, stapler bodies and rulers. Some is used as alternatives to wood for products such as interior decorative mouldings or hollow foam blocks that can be filled with concrete to form walls with better sound and thermal characteristics than conventional concrete blocks
  • SecondBite collected nearly 24 tonnes of fresh food from the market last financial year. This equates to nearly 50,000 meals to people in need
  • The Market’s Big Belly Bins have a built-in compactor which reduce the number of pickups saving time, money and the amount of landfill space needed
  • The market’s 500,000 litre rainwater tank, collects water from the rooftop car park. The water is used for wash down applications, by florists and to flush toilets.
  • Solar panels save the market around $6,000 a year, and 59 tonnes in CO2 emissions.
  • Find out more about the South Melbourne Market’s outstanding environmental performance here or what you can do at home or work at