The University of Melbourne's Choose to Reuse Program ensures that all onsite food retailers have the infrastructure they need to provide a reusable-dish service as an alternative to single-use plastics.
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The University of Melbourne is leading the reuse revolution through its Choose to Reuse Program. The program ensures that all onsite food retailers have the infrastructure they need to provide a reusable-dish service as an alternative to single-use plastics like cutlery, plates and bowls. The site also has a commercial dishwashing service to support businesses to adopt the reuse system.
In its first 6 months of operation, the reusable system washed over 250,000 bowls, plates, cutlery, and mugs and waste to landfill decreased by 30%. In total, this program has diverted over 400,000 items from going to landfill.
Sustainability Victoria recently partnered with the University of Melbourne to host Choose to Reuse, a masterclass for other universities, food hall operators and permanent market operators to learn how to adopt a reusable system in preparation for the Victorian Government’s Single-use plastics ban.
Single-use plastic drinking straws, cutlery, plates, drink-stirrers, expanded polystyrene food and drink containers, and cotton bud sticks will be banned from sale or supply in Victoria from 1 February 2023.
Sue Hopkins, Manager Environmental Sustainability, Melbourne University, explained how the University is rising to the challenge of reducing single-use plastics through measures such as setting sustainability targets, engaging businesses, negotiating contracts, training staff and putting up good signage.
In addition to the environmental benefits, other benefits for businesses include reduced purchasing costs, meeting expectations of students and University staff, and an improved experience for both customers and businesses.
To learn more about the University of Melbourne’s program, visit Choose to Reuse.
The University of Melbourne highlighted that through this program it was evident that the community cares about the environment and people want to do the right thing.
If you missed the Masterclass, watch the video to learn how the University of Melbourne implemented the Choose to Reuse Program, including the challenges, benefits, and their key learnings.
This video shows a PowerPoint Presentation, with speakers appearing via video to the side of the screen.
Jean Young, Team Leader Plastics, Sustainability Victoria
Sue Hopkins, Sustainability Manager, The University of Melbourne
Emilia Bisogni, Sustainability Officer, The University of Melbourne
[Opening visual of slide with text saying ‘Welcome to the Choose to Reuse Masterclass, we will be starting shortly, ‘Sustainability Victoria’]
[The visuals during this webinar are of a PowerPoint Presentation being played on screen, with speakers appearing via video to the side of the screen]
Hello and welcome everyone online to the choose to reuse masterclass. We are really pleased to have you here. My name is Jean Young, and I am from sustainability Victoria, and I am the team leader of our plastics program which supports businesses impacted by the single use plastic phase outs.
I would like to commence today's session with an acknowledgement of country. I acknowledge the traditional owners of the many lands upon which we are meeting today and pay my respects to the elders past present and emerging. Today I am located on the lands of the Kulin Nation, and I acknowledge that we live and work on the lands of the world's oldest and most sustainable culture. I acknowledge the deep connection to earth of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and their invaluable contributions to our understanding of climate change and the environment.
Today I will provide a brief overview of the single use plastic policy, SV's business engagement activities and then we will hear from the University of Melbourne on how they are leading the reuse revolution. There will be an opportunity for questions following their presentation and I will provide some details on a reuse pilot program that we have under development.
Many of you will be aware of the problem of single use plastics. They make up about 1/3 of the volume of Victoria's litter and cause harm to our environment. Many single use plastic items are used for a very short time and represent a poor use of our resources. They are difficult and economically unviable to recycle. They can often end up in our recycling systems leading to contamination. In February 2021, the Victorian government committed to banning single use plastic straws, plates, cutlery, drink stirrers, expanded polystyrene food and drink containers and cotton bud sticks from the 1st of February 2023. This is a deliverable of the circular economy policy recycling Victoria.
It is proposed that the ban will apply to conventional oxo-degradable and certified compostable plastic items. The Victorian Government now wants to hear from you, so you can now have your say on the draft regulations to enact the ban and the regulatory impact statement that outlines the approach to banning the single use plastic items. There is a frequently asked questions document included on the Engaged Vic website where there is more information on the draft regulations and the regulatory impact statement. You are encouraged to provide feedback via a survey on the Engaged Vic website. Or via a written submission and feedback is open until Sunday the 15th of May 2022.
Sustainability Victoria's role in delivering and supporting the delivery of the ban is to engage small to medium businesses who currently use single use plastics or SUPs to provide a service to their customers. This is predominantly those in the hospitality and food service industries. And our engagement will focus on providing information to support businesses to look at waste avoidance and reuse solutions as well as support DELWP, the Department of Environment Land, Water Planning and communicating the SUP policy once it is finalized later this year. The program will also host master classes targeted different sectors such as today, fund reuse pilots and undertake localized direct engagement including door to door doorknocking. Today is an opportunity to kick start the conversation around reuse models and what these might look like. From today, we hope you will consider how your organization or business might implement a reusable system to reduce single use plastics or single use items in preparation for the ban. When looking at the circular economy, we want food serving businesses to think about where they sit in the circular economy and how they can drive reuse over single use.
But today's session is really all about learning from the University of Melbourne. We have time allocated for questions and answers after the presentation. I am very pleased to introduce Sue Hopkins. Sue is a sustainability professional across tertiary education, government and not for profit organisations across the UK and Australia with an educational background in environmental science, ecology and conservation. Sue joined the University of Melbourne in 2016. In her current role as Sustainability manager, she is responsible for addressing the operational targets of the university's sustainability plan as well as community engagement. Sue sits on the Board of Directors at Australasian campuses towards Sustainability (ACTS), which is a registered not for profit organisation as of 2021.Thank you, Sue!
Thank you so much, Jean. That was a really kind introduction and welcome to everybody on the line today. My name is Sue Hopkins. As Jean said, I am the Sustainability manager at the University of Melbourne, and I'm absolutely delighted to be here.
Thank you so much to Jean and the team and to Sustainability Victoria for reaching out to us and partner with us today to hopefully share our story with you and inspire you to do some great things in the reuse space. A couple of things. I have also got two of my colleagues on the line. Unfortunately, due to the way that the system setup, you probably cannot see them, but I have got Emilia Bisogni and Ravina Grace who also sit in the Melbourne University team. I could not do, we couldn't do what we do here at Melbourne without them. This is a team effort on all our parts. We are very much working towards a circular economy approach in the way that we deal with waste at the University of Melbourne now and certainly respiring to zero waste to landfill like I know a lot of my sector colleagues are doing the same.
But before we get started, I would like to acknowledge that I am on the lands of the Wurundjeri people from Kulin Nation who have been custodian to this land for thousands of years and acknowledge and pay respects their elders past and present. And I would also like to acknowledge their lands or the Aboriginal lands on which you are all on today as it is a virtual event. So, let's get into it then, shall we? Choose to reuse. What do we mean by choose to reuse at the university of Melbourne? Well, it is pretty simple. It is what it says.
It is a free, reusable dish service offered at the University of Melbourne, and we have essentially gone back to basics. We allow, we run a service which allows staff students and any visitors to purchase food and drinks from our retailers using reusable tableware. With this simple idea obviously, to reduce waste to landfill. As you can see, some great pictures. And those are actually members of the team. You can see some great pictures of us, essentially, it is what the services is. We at the University of Melbourne, I am really delighted to say have a sustainability Framework and we did make a public commitment as a university back in 2016 when we developed our Sustainability Charter, which basically outlined our principles and our values as to the direction we wanted at the university to go in. This is an enduring document. We developed our first sustainability plan in 2017 and that ran to 2020 and we are just about to launch our new plan from 2022 to 2030.
And that base includes all our targets and our priority actions over the coming eight years. We also then report on those targets publicly. So, there is a transparency there and essentially, we are held accountable. So, are we essentially doing what we set out to do. We do have a good overarching strategy at the university, and we are working towards it. On that note, in our original sustainability plan, we had just one target around waste that was to reduce waste to landfill to 20 kilos per person by 2020. Now I am delighted to say that we did actually achieve that, but we did not achieve on our own. We did achieve it because of COVID essentially. Because our campuses were closed, so in 2020 we got down to 13.2 kilos per person and in 2021 thirteen 13.1 kilos per person. We very much just hit that target. Now, we probably would not have done that if it had not been for COVID.
In the new plan, we have got a target to reduce waste and landfill to 10 kilos of person by 2025 and then working towards 0 waste landfill by 2030. We have developed a circular economy target. At the university, our targets are about improving the circularity of materials passing through the university. I think that is essentially the one that we really do need to work towards now. It is not just a case of reducing waste to landfill. It is about looking at all the material flows through the university. The aim of that really is to ensure that we keep resources in circulation for longer and to try and combat that throw-away society that we now live in. And that is where the choose to reuse campaign was born. We did not actually start from scratch. We did have an existing service at the University of Melbourne. It started in 2013 and was set up by a group of students who were obviously very concerned about waste then and it was called washed against waste and it was offered at our Union House. And it was just very simple. It just has some plates and some bowls, and they were distributed throughout the student union.
And then we had a commercial dishwasher down in the basement and they were washed. Now, unfortunately as things happen generally across the campus, it was started by some really engaging students, but then over time no students left and the basically the program went into a big decline without any real direction and management of that program. By the time I got onto campus in 2016, there were some odd posters lying around, some lonely plates dotted around the dining room. But it did not have that invigorating feel that it used to have.
Two things happened at the same time. The manager of Union House approached me to say this program still running, but really nobody' is engaging with it. Nobody was using it. If we were going to keep doing this, we really needed to renew some interest in the service. And at the same time, the director of Space Management also contacted me to say, look, we really need to breathe some life back into Union House. We were in the process of developing on new student precinct, which are going to talk to you in a bit later, but that was going to be our new big brand-new precinct. But it was not going be coming online for another three years. So, we really wanted to sort of breath some life back into Union House. We decided to revamp the choose to reuse program. And that was a way we could obviously tackle our targets at the same time. That was approved, which was fantastic.
We had another thing that happened at that time as well is we were getting a lot of feedback through various channels from staff and students directly. Basically, they were telling us that the amount of waste they were seeing in Union House was quite frankly disgraceful. There was a lot of all sorts of different disposable items. Bins were overflowing. There were all sorts of different packaging being used. They basically reached out to us to say university of Melbourne really should be doing something about this. All those three things came together and aligned. In our initial conversations, we did have a chat about; do we down the compostable disposable route? Or do we just switch out the disposable items that we're using and just have a sort of better form of disposable? But we decided, no, that we really wanted to go back to the basics and really make much longer lasting change and really try and delve deep into people's behaviours.
I certainly remember when I was at university, I am going probably back about 25 years. But we had a food court that had plates and knives and forks and that kind of stuff. And I remember thinking, well, if I had that experience only 20 years ago, why can't we bring that experience back? I am delighted to say that in 2019, we had one of the old tenancies moved out. We redesigned and retrofitted that dishwasher hub, and we launched the program in 2019. We also decided that we are going to use that as a pilot for online and I am delighted to say has literally just come online in the beginning of 2022. You can see the lead in time that we had here, and I was involved in design conversations of the new student precinct back in 2018 all the way through to the current day. It does take a long time, obviously to design a building. But we sort of got in there from the start. I am delighted to say that is now we are now piloting it in that at the New Student Precinct as well.
So essentially why were we doing this? One of the biggest drivers for us was basically expectation from our staff and students. We received a lot of complaints and concerned emails. Our sustainability survey which we do every two years, really drew our attention. Students really wanted the University of Melbourne to do something about what they can visually see as an issue and something that they can personally take responsibility for as well. We also decided that it was going to improve the campus dining experience. How many of us have gone to have lunch somewhere and you have a paper plate or plastic plate, and you might have a little plastic fork and it doesn't grip your food properly? We really wanted to improve that campus experience. People come here to have a great time, but they also expect a certain level of service. We also wanted to implement circularity and to fit in with what Jean very much was talking about in reducing our single use and waste to landfill.
We knew that single use ban was coming. We very much looked at to the future and knew it was coming. We wanted to be on the front foot of which is absolutely fantastic, that ban is coming in. We wanted to create real, lasting behaviour change. Yes, we could have swapped things out for disposables and that is great if that is the only option. But we were lucky that there was another option for us, and we wanted to make sure we embrace that. And like I said, we also want to establish a reputation as being a leader in this space if we can be and really create that experience for our students. I do not think that I have to really preach to any of you guys but as we all know, plastic or single use disposable plastics really what is the cost of our convenience? A lot of the items that we were giving out in Union House, they are used for 20 minutes. Somebody picks up their meals, sits down at a table and chair provided in the dining hall, eats their dinner, and then throws it in the bin on the way out. And often they will throw that item in the wrong bin. We were generating a lot of waste when really, we did not need to do that. And as you can see some of these pictures, these are all dining, food court or retailer waste that comes from the food that we eat. We really want to see that reduced. So that was some of our motivation.
We really are fighting a war on waste. And recycling as we know is not the solution. Yes, obviously if we can, if we can generate items to go and recycle and that is part of the solution, but it is not the solution and we wanted to do something different at the University of Melbourne. We set up in Union House like I say back in 2019. This picture on the right is a picture of our dining court once it had been sort of revamped. Now with the agreement of all University of Melbourne stakeholders, we agree to a budget of 100,000. Now obviously, you know that some people could say that is a lot of money, which obviously it is. Have a saying that when you looked at the costs that go into purchasing disposables, when you look at the costs for the waste services, and if you look at the future, because let us agree, it's not all about money. And, then I think that is a small price to pay for the scheme that we have set up. We retrofitted existing tenancy space, which is great. We collaborated with all the retailers. We purchased reusable crockery and then obviously we launched the campaign.
Two things to think about here. When you look at that picture, there were two elements about here- we had to get the front of house change in place, so that is the infrastructure for the diners in the food court, signage to encourage people to know where they could pick up items. And we have placed all the bin signages to see and we made it very specific to the food that was actually going out in the food court. And then obviously getting people to use the service. And then there was obviously the back of house change. Obviously, the infrastructure of the dishwashing, processes of the cleaners and ensuring that everything was washed and returned in a timely manner etcetera. We had a series as you can see of pick up and drop off stations.
This is our dishwasher hub, but this was the revamped tenancy that we had. As you can see, we put a what we hope is a lovely sort of infographic on the side because this is actually quite a busy walk through. We did not want to hide the dishwasher hub away. We wanted people to actually understand that when they picked up a plate from the front end of the when they were getting their food that they could actually see that there was a consequence to that, and they could see the dishwashing going on. We purposely had the windows and the glass door, which is open on this picture, but we purposely had them so you could see through them so people could look in and see what was going on. The dishwasher ended up being along with the signage. I think the dishwasher hub retrofit was about 75,000. So originally estimated to be about 50,000, but there were a few issues with the services. Signage was about 15,000 and then purchase of crockery cutlery around 20,000. I do want to be up front with those costs, but obviously we saw it as very much a fantastic investment. At this time, we had- two plate sizes, 3 bowl sizes, two mug sizes and cutlery, a range of cutlery and we did go out to our tenants and ask what items they would like. We did have a bit of leftover stock from the old washed against waste program which we did use initially. But we did go and get some new items and we just wanted it to look plain and be durable, so we just went with the white crockery.
As you can see, there was a vast difference in the types of composition that these materials are made up of. Some are plastic, some are paper, some are PLA, some were paperboard with PLA lining. A lot of people were confused. People would take their food away, as we all know, and then they often did not know what to do with the item. A lot of it just ended up in landfill, even though a lot of that stuff could be recycled. So that was the aim was to get rid of a lot of that. In the process of setting up in Union House, we did upgrade all our signage. It was it was time for an upgrade anyways, so it was very timely. But we did give the space, basically a big nice visual overhaul. Previously on the front of those bins we just had, I think they were just three size posters. They were laminated. No one really saw them. No one engaged with them, and everyone basically ignored them. We had full size posters put on the front of the bins to make it more visually engaging. And we specifically link the pictures on the front of there to the products that were going out. So that there was a connection between the food that they were buying. Rather than just be a generic infographic, it was linked to the items that were coming through the food court and then the other thing we did was we put some engaging messaging on the side of the bins.
As you can see, we consume food not waste. Disposable containers used for 20 minutes but are here for a lifetime. And I do not know where the Darcy is, but our comms officer is on the line, but she came up with all that communication, which is fabulous. We then had stickers on the front of every tenancy telling them. Obviously, they could pick up the items and then we had our drop off stations here next to the bins where they could scrape their plates. Prior to this, we did not have a three bins system in Union House. So, all our food waste was essentially going into landfill bin. So, what this also gave us the ability to do is to collect food waste in the buckets. As you can see the picture on the left-hand side and then take that down to our food waste processor which is down in the basement. All our retailers were taken there, organics waste down to the food waste processor, but our front of house waste was not being collected. So, this then enabled us to not only collect our crockery and cutlery to be washed, but also collect our food organics to go back into the food waste processor. So at least we were diverting some organic waste from landfill. Because as we know our organics waste is one of the biggest components of our waste on campus. We did a survey back at the end of 2019 and obviously food was the biggest element of our waste bins. I think it was sitting at around 20 to 25%.
Getting our retailers on board, I have to say this was the biggest challenge. And it was the biggest challenge because a lot of the retailers had been practicing or having a service in Union has for a long time. This was a change for them, and we originally went round, we talked to everyone individually. And I remember when we sort of gave out the plates and bowls, we sort of gave them out and people kind of looked at them. But then they kind of put them away in a cupboard. And every time we go round and look to see where the plates and bowls where you could not see them. So yes, the success really stopped the program because we had a clean drop off station in the middle of the precinct that anyone walking past could pick up a plate. But the retailers were not giving out our plates. We had one or two keen retailers who really kind of got it. But most of them did not! But that really changed when we actually had a whole of precinct meeting. All the retailers were invited, everyone came along. I, the director of Space management, a few other people stood up and explained why we were doing this, and it was almost like the penny dropped. Because they could also see that you know what- it was not just asking them to make a change, we were asking everyone to make a change. They then felt collectively part of something bigger. And they also understood that this was a precinct wide approach. And it was not just them that were being asked to make those changes. Provided all those items, provided signage, and then the one thing we did do is we did set up a sustainability competition. Over the course of the next six months and the aim was then that we would have a bit of a vote at the end of the year, who was the most sustainable retailer. And they could basically win a couple of weeks free rent, which obviously is very favourable to our retailers.
That did not end up happening because that's exactly when COVID struck us down. But the intent was obviously there, and it was a game changer for us in engaging our retailers. From an engagement perspective, we also got on board a large number of volunteers. We run a student volunteering program here at the University of Melbourne. It was really easy to be able to add this particular activity onto the list of things that we offer to them. We had dedicated student volunteers who then provide their time and then they get they get a leader in sustainability award for it or and it meant that we engage as many staff and students as possible. We had prizes that give away, we had free coffee and it really helped raise engagement of the scheme and the volunteers themselves say they love taking part in it, which was wonderful. And what we did is that the start of each semester we had a cohort of students come in probably for two or three weeks, the start of each semester because we also understand that students change over. Generally, students come and go on campus. So, we really need to keep those communications up. So, the initial challenges that we had like I said, probably the biggest challenge we had was the buy-in from the food and beverage tenancies.
But like I say, once we provided support to them and have meetings etcetera, they very much came on board. We still do have challenge that and we understand that because a lot of our food and beverage tenants they have their own processes and procedures. But I do remember chatting to one retailer when we were looking at the new student precinct. And he looked at me and he said, ‘ohhh, my gosh, I could save thousands and thousands of dollars by engaging in this program’. So, there are real benefits to the retailers as well. That is what we want to see. And I have taken from customers like I said, those eager students that would see the dishes and stuff like that was easy. That is why we had the volunteers to make sure that there was good engagement. Some of the initial operational challenges like we ran out of items. We had to make sure that we refine our processes to make sure that we were cleaning them and getting back to the tenants quickly. Obviously, some tenants use more than others depending on the food offering they had. High attrition rates for some items. Now I must say, we were worried about some items but plates, crockery, not an issue. What does run out, though, is cutlery. And especially forks. Forks walk. And they walk a lot. So, the only thing I would say is - have a little bit of money in the budget to replenish your forks regularly. Probably the other thing was the cleaning stuff. There is a bit of uncertainty. But again, we added those processes as we kind of got going, which was fabulous.
OK! So, success. This is just some internal dashboards that we have here. But as you will see, the very faint pink line at the bottom as our 2018 mapping. We used to wash 1000 items a month if that it just kind of poodles along. You would see the cleaners wandered down to the basement, the big commercial dishwasher and wash about five items. But as you can see where we launched in July 2019, it absolutely skyrocketed. We washed around about 266,000 items by the end of the year. The sort of more solid red line there. You will see we started 2020 on a high. It was absolutely fantastic by the time we locked down on the 17th of March, we had washed almost 70,000 items. And as you would see then it completely plateaued because we did not open the service up again for 2020. With 2021 you will see we kind of got back up to speed towards may and there has been uncertainty. But I shall see then it basically plateaued again because we locked down.
And the blue line is us now. We have relaunched again, which is great. We are on the up, which is obviously the best place for us to be. Pretty obvious as the plates increased, the waste decreased. The more items we washed and the more our waste landfill came down which was fantastic to see because that was the correlation that we wanted and needed. Because that was obviously why we were doing it. And this is over a yearly basis as you will see. In 2013, obviously we had some great engagement and that kind of cooled off 2018. And as you will see, from 2019 are waste to landfill did decrease. That obviously was in correlation with COVID as well! We cannot claim all that success, but we can certainly claim a part of that and that is just the waste from our Union House.
So, what did we learn? We learned that we delivered a program that the community really cares about. We got a lot of very positive feedback. We went from having feedback that really did lead us feeling really frustrated and upset with people saying what a disgrace our food courts were to a lot of very positive feedback. Obviously, the retailers save costs on disposal packaging. We are facilitating infrastructure here for the community and we want people to do the right thing. And like I say, provide a better dining experience for all. We realized that retailers needed incentive to buy in. They needed constant communication and that was great. Certainly, for our new student precinct, there is a lot going on there. And you what, we learned that we could do it.
There were so many people that said to me, know what this is going to be hard, it is going to cost a lot. And what are you doing? Why don't you just get disposables? I have had even consultants just say, well, it is not going to work. Why don't you just go down the composting route? But you know what? Throughout all that, we decided to do it. And this kick started the first of reuse initiatives for us to support a more circular campus. Most importantly, it enabled us to have a successful pilot in time for our new student precinct. So, it was not easy, but it was definitely worth it.
So going on to our new student precinct, there are basically 6 brand new or retrofitted tenancies. This is a picture of the second building to open and this is our student pavilion which has got a dedicated food hall. Theoretically you should have about 20 retail tenancies. We are going to claim to be single use plastic free precinct which is fantastic. Because alongside the reuse we also drafted the University of Melbourne’s single use disposable standard. Which meant that the new tenants, new retail coming online or on board could not use any plastic-based products. No PLA based product. They all had to use the products approved by the university to ensure that they could be dealt with through our waste management services.
The biggest challenge was the dishwasher hub. It was in the original design then it was designed out. There was designed in, then it was designed out. So, I have to say for the new student precinct, it has been a journey. But I am delighted to say that it has now come back in. So, like I say, it got designed in, then it got designed out because this is a precinct and how are the crockery and cutlery going to flow across the precinct etcetera. And that was the original issue. But we lobbied hard the OPS (operations) team lobbied hard to make sure that it could come back in. The original solution was that OK, if we could not have a central dishwasher hub, then what we do is we ensure that all tenancies had the space for a commercial dishwasher and therefore they would do their own washing. At the time, it was a solution. But it was not the best solution that we could come up with. But it was definitely a solution we thought, OK, we'll go with that. We made sure that commercial dishwasher was designed into all retail spaces and that was a condition of the lease. Within this two- or three-years period, we also worked very hard with our leasing team, legal, etcetera, etcetera to ensure that we captured all this and more sustainability KPIs in our tenancy and lease agreements, which has been fantastic.
There were many, many conversations about how we were going to deal with this. I think it is probably the thing I have talked about most over the last three years, and we obviously had some key stakeholders on board. I have not made a typo here. I have purposely left the dishwasher hub as XXX because one of the things that happened is a couple of months ago, we decided that we were going to assign the dishwasher back in. So, we did. And so that is currently in. That is currently being retrofitted or installed at this precise moment in time. The retailers have dishwashing capabilities in their retail space, but we also have what we are going to call the overflow dishwasher hub and that will also service events and that kind of stuff as well. We also purchased lots of trolleys and we also purchased more crockery and cutlery. So, this time we went bigger. Our stakeholders from our pilot program told us that we needed more stuff. Now we have got two plate sizes, 3 bowl sizes. We have got three cup sizes: Espresso, latte & cappuccino. Cutlery, that also includes soup spoons, teaspoons, and reusable chopsticks. And, condiment balls, rice bowls, food trays, and indoor and outdoor trolleys. The only thing we did not service is straws. Because to be honest, they are too hard to clean. Too fiddly to clean in the speed that we need to get things back out and run in. However, we have stated that there are no plastic straws. They must be paper which can go in our third bin system.
So really, why did we do this again? At the University of when we had quite a unique and rare opportunity here because we were developing a new building from scratch, and we were coming in at a time where we knew what our aspirations for the future were going to be. It was hard because there was a lot of use and throw culture. Some of the people sort of who were very heavily involved in this project did not necessarily know and they had different priorities. There were lot of challenges in that respect. But again, we did it because we had a unique opportunity. How can you develop a program in your old student union develop, a brand-new building and then not bring along that behaviour change with it? We could not open a new precinct with disposable items and go back to three years ago. It had to come with us.
We are again wanted to create real behaviour change. I did have some conversations that people along the way who again said it is not going to work. It is going to be too hard. You might as well just switch to disposables. I had somebody tell me that. They have done surveys. Students want disposables. Well, sometimes you have to be the parents and sometimes you have to set up a system to enable them. I am sure my kids, given the opportunity of broccoli over sweets, would obviously choose sweets. We needed to make sure that we created some real behaviour change and we need to install infrastructure to support long term changes. Plus, there was certainly the expectation from our community that we were not going to go back on what we had already started.
So, what did we do? We used the successes of Union House and the student expectation as leverage, sustainability clauses into all the leasing agreements. This has been an ongoing process for 2-3 years. Designing dishwasher space in all tenancies. What I would say is, if you are in a similar situation and you want to go down this road and you do not have the ability to have a central dishwasher hub, then retrofitting if there is space. Most tenancies will have sinks and that kind of stuff. Being able to retrofit some dishwashing facilities into those tenancies might be the way for you. Although I know I have had conversations with friends and colleagues in the past who say they the biggest hurdle probably to this kind of program is having the ability to dishwash. But if you are able to look at things afresh, then I would definitely say, it is an absolute no brainer to support a circular economy and go down the reuse route. There is no comparison between continually turning over materials regardless, if there were disposable items going into compost. And yes, those are great if there are no other alternatives. But there is no comparison to ensuring we keep our products in their original state for as long as humanly possible. Reuse wins out in the end, every time.
The other thing we did was, no individual branding in these tenancies. All that reusable crockery and cutlery, we did not allow tenancies to brand it themselves. We wanted to demonstrate that everybody was equal and that everyone was in this together. And the other big thing that I would say is, along with all the challenges that we had, we kept talking as if it was going to happen. I cannot tell you the number of times I almost went home in tears when somebody told me yet again that your pipe dream of reuse is not going to happen. But I kept just coming back and back and saying yes, it is. And I genuinely thank that due to everybody that not just me, there was a great big group of us that we just persevered and kept going.
These are some pictures of our new student precinct. You would see obviously the dirty dishes there. You would see our drop off trolleys, which are outside. They have been retrofitted by some of our guys on campus, and I think they look fabulous for a little organics' buckets there on the side and there is some of our internal trolleys that the cleaners go around to pick up the items. The way it works is the cleaners will basically provide busing service. They take dirty plates back to the to the tenants and then they also take other dirty dishes once the dishwasher hub is open back to the dishwasher hub as well. The other new things we implemented in the student precinct that we did not necessarily introduce in the in the Union House, was the introduced three bin system. We now have the inclusion of organic bins front of house. And those fronts of house organics will be processed off site because obviously we realized we could not 100% get rid of disposables. That was not actually realistic, but because of the standard that we brought in, it just means that any disposals that are brought in are compostable, and they will then go off with our food wasted process off-site. However, our back of house organics are still going to be processed by a food waste processor. All the organic waste coming out of our tenancies will go into that food waste processor. We do still have the ability for people to put their organics and their cutlery in there as well. So, we can obviously take some of those organics back behind the scenes as well.
The other big thing in the contracts that we did is all waste will be weighed. Tenants will be charged the waste management fee, which will be calculated how much landfill they produce. Instead of having a set fee for waste management, it is going to be the first year where they see go into measure and weigh all the waste. We are in a good position because obviously we are developing our ways to have at the same time, but it is simply a set of scales. The cleaners will take the waste, they will allocate the waste per tenancy in a simple system just with a sharpie pen. And written on the tenancy, number one or whatever, that will be weighed and then that will be that will be accounted back to the tenants. So hopefully again that incentivized the tenants to reuse and reduce as much possible. One thing that I would say is what this really did was, we basically kick started a reuse revolution on campus and that was also primarily as a part of the development of the new targets within the sustainability plans. So, the other thing that we did sort of the beginning of this year was, we brought in the events where you service before COVID. But we ramped that and as you can see the picture at the top. We have actually bought these items and they are not melamine. They look like melamine, but they are sort of rice husk. They are used now for all our food trucks and our outdoor markets. It is fabulous and wonderful to see them being used. We have also banned plastic disposable drink bottles on campus now.
Again, I had quite a few people say to me, ‘my gosh, how have you done that?’ Well, we basically just wrote it into the contracts. And we basically said to all retailers, you cannot provide disposables. You cannot provide takeaway beverages in disposable bottles. They have to be Aluminium, glass, or paperboard. I do appreciate there are issues with paper board as well but let us deal with one thing at a time. And obviously we know that the container deposit scheme is coming soon as well. So that will support us. That is written into all our contracts. Not just our contracts but also into all our vending machines across campus as well. We have acted very timely. We were just renewing our vending machine contract across campus. And all plastic drink bottles are banned in there as well. And we have got a road map with our vending machine company as well to reduce all single use plastic packaging on campus over a number of years period. That also goes for the supermarket that is going to be coming onto campus. We have already had a meeting with them, and they will be phasing out all single use plastics over a set period of time.
The other thing we have done is we have implemented Green Caffeen and that is also thanks to some of our colleagues who I wonder if they are on the line. But a number of our sector-based colleagues in tertiary education have gone down this route which is great. We have got to reuse vending machines. So now you can purchase water bottles, keep cups and straws, cutlery, everything out of our vending machines. Because one of the issues was, if you want them to go reuse, how can they buy it they forgotten it? Now we have provided reuse access to on campus. We have got our new equipment and new service. And this year, we are going to launch an E-waste program across campus as well, which is great. We are looking at our electrical equipment.
Just the final top tips; set your expectations! Make sure that you are in communication with all your food and beverage tenancies. If you can, make sure that this is spread across all of them. So that there is a default offering for all your customers. You will see there the picture on the left at one of our lovely cleaning staff collecting some plates. They are outside, and then obviously some of our friends using it. Retailers and cleaners are the crucial link in this chain. I could go into so much more detail and everything we have done, and certainly I am very open to for anyone who wants to get in contact with us and talk to us about that. But the retailers in the cleaners are the crucial link. Continual feedback, continually talking to your retail tenancies and continually making improvements is where we have sort of bought into this. Stakeholder engagement is crucial.
Would we do it again? Hell yes, we do it again! What I would say is please do not give up. Sometimes it can feel like you are fighting an uphill battle and sometimes the challenges can feel too big. But really, the sense of achievement and what we are creating here at the university is fantastic. I really would say that keep pushing and acting as if it is going to happen. I would say, my team were very lucky. We had our director of Space Management, our leasing managers, our facilities managers were all keen to get on board. And I think I do not know about other people on this call, but I have seen a significant shift in attitude around sustainability and around waste and circular economy etcetera over the last a few years. So, I would say that the time is right to have these conversations. So many people want to do the right thing. They want to get involved, but they just either do not know how or it is not in their remit. They are going to look to you as either a sustainability professional, as a retailer, as somebody who manages a food court, whatever it may be, they are going to look to you for that leadership and that drive to get this happen. What I would say is keep pushing, keep acting. There are people out there in the sector now doing it.
Please do give it a go. Collaboration is the key. The other thing I would say trial and error. It is all trial and error. When look back to what we pushed out in 2019 and we really were starting from, it was just a bunch of us, basically, on how we going to do this. But it worked out and we just plugged away and it was brilliant. And the data speaks for itself. This program works, our wasteful landfill has gone down. The positive engagement we are getting back and just remember it is not all about the money. Yes, it might seem a lot, but really the significant amount of money that are spent doing all sorts of things, your money really is probably one year's worth of disposable packaging that is out there in the community and really the community needs strong leadership. We are drowning in waste. We really need to make real, long-lasting change. It was not easy, but it is worth it. Thank you everyone so much for your time everybody. I hope I have not gone too over. Happy to take any questions that anyone has. Thank you again.
Thank you, Sue for that fantastic overview of what you have done and what you have achieved at the University of Melbourne. It is very inspiring and very fantastic to see the work that you guys are leading in the reuse space. To kick off while we wait to see if any questions do come through the email, I am interested to know how successful your program is and what the impact of it is? Just curious to find out how does the University of Melbourne go about actually collating the data around diversion? Is that on the retailers or? Keen to understand how that works?
We started off with a fairly crude system if you like. As cleaners are stacking our dishwashers, they have pen and paper and they write down how many plates, mugs, cutlery go through that particular cycle. It is a very simple system, but it works, and it is consistent across the organisation. I did actually have somebody the other day to me, we can stop doing that now can't we? I had to say, we could not stop doing that. We are going to continue to do that. In the new student precinct, we it differently. But it will be probably similar as our cleaners are still involved. They are consistent members of staff, and they will record plates as they get washed and cutlery as well.
Great, thank you. Another question is just around the ongoing costs. I guess to manage these programs, has it been significantly more expensive for the University of Melbourne to deliver this program?
No. I suppose the biggest cost were initial setup and the costs of the equipment. We retrofitted a lot of trolleys and used the stuff we already had. But really the biggest ongoing cost is the cleaning staff who clean the crockery and cutlery. There are a number of ways we manage these costs. We absorb some of the costs, but also that is factored back into the tenancy’s agreements. Because obviously the tenants that themselves and as retailers, they are obviously saving money on disposable items and so there is a there is an element of savings there. But it is a shared cost model between us all. Now, it has been absorbed into our operations. When you do a cost analysis, if you think about landfill levies going up, so there is going to be a significant increase in landfill. If you look at it that way, the amount of money we are going to save on a landfill levy and you save obviously on buying their disposable items in the 1st place, it really is a cost-effective way of doing it.
So, I have just got some questions coming through. The first one was around the banning of bottled water. How was that received? And if there was a replacement, what was it?
Yes, we did have a couple of retailers contact us and say how are we going to do this. The big question that we also got was ‘is our PET classified as sustainable?’ And ‘can I still have plastic bottles because basically coke have told me that our PPT is recycled?’ We said no. No plastic water bottles at all. Most retailers I have to say were fantastic. They could see why we were doing this. We also allowed people, to phase out withing the timeframe. We asked them to swp out with alternatives. If there was an alternative, either a can or a glass or whatever else, they could go with that. If there is no alternative, then we would look at this together over certain time period. We worked with them. My team pulled together a number of alternatives, which we provided to the retailers. And I must admit they all got on board. I even had a tenant come up to me on campus only a couple of days ago, chatting to me about the changes that have been made. There was some pushback initially. But when you stand firm and they can also see that everybody else on campus is doing the same thing, they get on board. This is all retailers and all vending machines. We provided the reuse options. We have got lots of water bottles on campus and we have the reuse vending machine. We provided enough alternatives for people to basically get a glass of water or can of coke, whatever it may be.
Thank you. There was another question around the additional operating budget for the cleaners to take on the dishwashing role, which you might have answered. But I am also following on from that, how do you manage the customers who do want to take away food to their desk or outside the buildings?
We have basically said that take away items includes the whole of the campus. We are happy for somebody to go to one of our retailers, pick up a plate and bring it back to their office or their classroom or whatever it is. When we did the pilot in Union House, we realized that was going to happen. I had a couple of people in the library called me one day and they said ‘Sue, we've got those plates and cups in the library we have. They all come from?’ And that is when we realized that not only will we encouraging people to take them away, but people were taking them away. We basically put out communications to the community to say that when we say take away that take away meant the whole precinct. We know the target hotspots and we will go around and have some collection bins in those places. We probably are going to encounter some of those challenges in the new student precinct because I think we have only launched in the last couple of days. But we do need to talk to people about what takeaway means, and we will monitor that closely. And we will see this sort of level of reuse compared to takeaway. Again, we will do surveys, we will talk to our retails, we will talk to our community to remind them that actually take away means the whole of the campus. The only thing I will say is I am not sure if we will ever stop people disappearing with our forks. We finally figured out why they walk with our forks. And it is because, we also have a lot of reheat stations on campus. So, people were bringing their own food. They would bring in their Tupperware container and they would go and sit down, and they would pick up a fork from the food court, and then they would pop the fork in their container, and they would walk away. They would not realize they are doing it. And that is where we realize what was happening is people did not mean to do it. They were picking up a fork and then just forgetting that they had brought it from home. But that is OK. If I have to replace a couple of forks, never mind.
Are we able to share our tender specifications or the sustainability clauses in our leasing agreements with people? I am sure, we could.
I am sure there is some way that we can do that. Not a problem. Just email us and we will get back to you. We would love to work and collaborate with all our lovely sector colleagues out there.
Great. We got a few more questions coming through. We will try and get through as many as we can. What were some of the key points? Did we use our business case? Or was it the saving for the retailers?
I would say the biggest incentive, or the biggest argument was that the students expected it. They had an expectation from their customers. I just pulled together all the feedbacks we got and the complaints that we got. Those were probably the biggest drivers. The other driver was the dining experience. At that time at the university, we were really looking at how we could improve the campus experience. Not just in this space, but in lots of other spaces as well. My team sits within our campus management and that was a big question that was going around. Yes, obviously there was very much about hitting our target and our sustainment plan. If you don't have that central target, it does make it a bit trickier. Because every time I had a conversation with somebody, we could say that we had a target to hit. So, we had to do this, and this was the best way to do it. One of the tenants said to me that they can spend up to $100,000 a year on disposable packaging. That is just one tenancy. That cost is significant. Including all those arguments such as, it’s what our students expect, better dine in experience, better campus experience, hitting our targets etc brought it together. And we are also showing that University of Melbourne is doing its bit for sustainability with this global challenge. We kind of weaved it all together.
Thanks. And these are two questions around COVID. Was there anything additional we needed to do after COVID to meet health requirements? Do we need any additional signage to reassure people about using the reusables?
Yes. This was obviously a big pain point during COVID, and we had many conversations COVID around as soon as COVID hit. We thought that we had to go to disposables. But during COVID, there was no government mandate to say you could not use reusables. In fact, I made many phone calls to the Department of Health and various other organisations to ask if we had to legally stop using reusable. And they said there were no regulations around reusable tableware. There was no mandate. There was nothing to say that by washing a cup, it wasn't COVID safe. Obviously, we closed the campus. But there was nothing to say that we couldn't use our reusable service. We made sure that our communications highlighted the hygiene and COVID safety measure. We said that these items are go through a commercial dishwasher. They are sanitized and they are up to health standards. Just like any restaurant you go to across the globe.
Perfect. Do you see other industries or precincts where this idea would be suited? And are there opportunities to take this idea further than outside just universities?
Absolutely. When I went to university, we had a refractory in the UK that had crockery and cutlery. If you go to IKEA now, they use reusable plates and cutlery in their food court. We did a number of site visits when we were setting up originally. We went to Emporium in here in Melbourne. They have reusable crockery and cutlery. This is not a new idea. In fact, it is completely and utterly going back to basics. We have changed the narrative of retail of the last 20 years due to convenience. I would say that this particular reusable scheme is so scalable. You could start with one retailer, you could have a whole precinct, you could start with one item, you could start with one retailer. You could scale it up or you could scale it down. It is completely and utterly transferable. There is no doubt about it. Every step of the way.
And the next one - did we conduct any research with people with disabilities while we were setting up the program?
I must be brutally honest. We did not at the beginning, but we have done that since. Certainly, when we were setting up our reusable cup scheme, we had spoken to people with disabilities about that. We discussed what they would like to see, and we did ensure that so our drop off stations were all DDA compliance. We made sure that they right height and for wheelchair users. Because we are using a trolley-based system, so it has to be suitable. We want to make this absolutely suitable for absolutely everybody.
Perfect. What are the percentage of the decrease in the retailers' disposable container purchases compared to before the program?
The only stats I can give you is that our waste to landfill went down by 30% in our Union House prior to COVID shutdown. One thing I do remember chatting to one of our retailers during that period and he told me that his waste had reduced by at least 50 to 60%. He said that he would carry probably 6 bin bags. And now he claimed that had been cutting half. He was now only taking about 3 bin bags at a time. So that just goes to show that as one of the retailers experienced.
I do have quite a few more questions here and I know that there were some people who had multiple questions in their email, but we did save the last 10 minutes to go back to Jean to talk about some potential funding. I do promise that I will get back to your emails this week. I will pass over to Jean for the conclusion.
What is next? For us, we are aiming to provide funding for limited number of pilots of reuse systems in the following sectors across Victoria. So, we are looking at similar to what the University of Melbourne has just presented. Permanent markets, shopping centres, food Halls at university campus or a similar setting. The aim of the pilot program is to understand interest in this space and gather knowledge on the feasibility for businesses looking to implement reusable systems. The outcomes of these pilots would also feed into the design of future circular economy programs as well. And funded projects would need to be in operation by March 2023, which, may not align with everyone's requirements of approvals, etcetera.
We are accepting the applications for the pilot program. We are keen to talk to any organizations that are currently using single use plastic items that are included in the ban and would be interested in piloting a reuse system or discussing this opportunity further. Following this master class, we will send a follow up email with more information regarding the pilots. If you are interested, we would be really keen for you to reach out to me directly. That basically was a wrap up. I would like to thank the University of Melbourne for their fantastic presentation and providing a fantastic model of what is possible. Obviously, there are a lot of challenges. But as Sue has kind of highlighted, there are also benefits for consumers, businesses, and organizations. This webinar will be recorded. We will also send that through. Feel free to share with any of your other relevant networks that were not able to attend.
Thank you all and bye for now!
[End of transcript]
Sue Hopkins is the Manager Environmental Sustainability at Melbourne University and she provided answers to questions regarding the Choose to Reuse program.
How was the banning of bottled water received and was a replacement offered?
There were some retailers that contacted us and were worried about how they were going to implement the ‘no plastic drink bottles’, with many being informed that the PET (plastic bottles) are sustainable as they can be recycled. However, the University was committed to banning the sale of plastic water bottles. Most of our retailers were fantastic and could see why we were doing this.
We implemented a timeframe to allow people to phase out their current single-use plastic bottles. The University Sustainability team pulled together several alternative products that could be sold, this was provided to the retailers, and they are all now on board.
What do you do for customers who want to take away their food?
We are happy for anyone to go to one of our retailers, pick up a plate and bring it back to their office or their classroom or whatever it is. I had a couple of people in the library call me one day and they said that they have got plates and cups in the library. Where did they come from? We have now realised that issue.
So, we put out communications to the community to say that take away meant the whole precinct. We have identified the target hotspots and we will go around there and have some collection bins in those places.
What were some of the key points used in your business case?
I would say the biggest incentive, or the biggest argument, was that the students expected it. There was an expectation from the customers. I just pulled together all the feedback and the complaints that we got. So that was probably the biggest driver.
The other driver then was the dining experience. At that time at the university, we were really looking at how we could improve the campus experience. Not just in this space, but in lots of other spaces. My team sits within our campus management and that was a big question that was going around. If you don't have that central sustainability target, it does make it a bit trickier. Because every time I had a conversation with somebody, we could say that we have a target to achieve. So, we are going to have to do this, and this is the best way to do it.
One of the tenants said to me that they can spend up to $100,000 a year on disposable packaging. That is just one tenancy. And we are also showing that University of Melbourne is doing its bit for sustainability with this global challenge, so kind of weaved it all together.
Was there anything additional you needed to do for COVID-19 and new health requirements?
This was obviously a big challenge during COVID-19 and we had a lot of conversations around it as soon as it hit. We started to discuss that we could not have reusables anymore and we had to go to disposables. But during COVID, there was no government mandate to say you could not use reusables. In fact, I made many phone calls to the Department of Health and various other organisations asking if we had to legally stop using reusables and they said no. So, there was no mandate. There was nothing to say that by washing and reusing a cup, it wasn't ‘COVID safe’.
Obviously, we closed the campus during lockdowns, which meant that we could not use our reusables. But there was nothing to say that we couldn't. We made sure our communications explained that these items go through a commercial dishwasher, they’re sanitised, and they are up to OHS standards, just like any restaurant you go to across the globe.
Do you see other industries or precincts where this idea would be well suited?
When I went to university in the UK, we had a refractory that had crockery and cutlery. If you go to IKEA now, they have reusable crockery and cutlery in their food courts. We did a number of site visits when we were setting up: We went to Emporium here in Melbourne – they also have reusable crockery and cutlery.
So, this is not a new idea. In fact, it is completely going back to basics. We have changed the narrative of retail in last 20 years due to convenience. So, all we are doing is going back to doing what we did previously.
I would say that this scheme is so scalable. You could start with one retailer, you could have a whole precinct, you can start with one item or, you can start with one retailer. It is completely and utterly transferable.
Did you conduct any research with people with disabilities while setting up the program?
We didn't at the very beginning, but we have done that since. Certainly, when we were setting up our reusable cup scheme, we have spoken to people with disabilities about that and what they would like to see. We ensured that our drop-off stations and trolleys were all DDA compliant and made sure they are the right height for wheelchair users.
When we are ferrying crockery and cutlery back and forth, because we're using a trolley-based system, it has to be suitable. We will continue to pursue because we want to make this absolutely suitable for absolutely everybody.
Did you look at local Victorian procurement, or go with a big company, such as Ikea?
For simplicities sake, we went with Nisbets and Hospitality Products to source the crockery and cutlery items. If anyone has suggestions for better suppliers, please pass on their details!
What did you do for take away coffee cups? Did you use Green Caffeen?
Yes, we have implemented Green Caffeen, which is a free reusable coffee cup system available on campus that makes it easier than ever to say goodbye to disposable coffee cups. It's a perfect solution for coffee lovers and works just like borrowing a library book.
Currently 10 cafes on campus are a part of the Green Caffeen café network and we hope to roll it out across all of our cafes in the near future. We launched in February 2022.
As always, we work with our vendors to offer reuse as the first option, whether that be dine in, Green Caffeen, Keep Cup or another reusable cup. However, we understand we cannot remove disposables completely at this point in time. Therefore, we must accept that some people will continue to use disposable cups and we encourage those people to make sure they bin it right (in the landfill bin!). We also have Keep Cups in our reuse vending machine and offer bulk discounted purchases for staff across campus via an internal payment system. We do also offer reusable cups as part of Choose to Reuse.
Did you need to change the contract terms with the cleaners to add the extra duties to their roles?
In Union House we added extra shifts for additional cleaning staff dedicated to the Dish Wash Hub and we have regular fortnightly meetings with the cleaners to check in. We also had existing staff for the rest of the building. In the Student Precinct, it’s part of their normal duties.
Can you see this working at an outdoor market?
Absolutely! We are currently using this plate service with temporary food trucks which are set up on campus and we are also bringing back the Melbourne Farmers Market, which will be on campus weekly throughout the semester. Dirty dish stations are set up outside, which the cleaners collect and return to the Dish Wash Hub for cleaning. We are also currently investigating purchasing a mobile dishwashing cart to be used for outdoor events.
How does the reuse vending machine work?
We are currently piloting one reuse vending machine on the Parkville campus (with plans to expand if successful) which was set up earlier this year. This is a separate contract to our full vending contract. Items in the machine include Keep Cups, reusable bottles, cutlery packs, straws, face masks and hand sanitisers. We sourced these sustainable items at wholesale price and only increased the price by a few dollars per item to cover the cost of running the machine, to keep everything affordable for students. We pay a monthly subscription for this machine and any profits come back to the University and are used to run the machines.
As for the whole of University vending, this is run differently via a commission-based contract and this tender went to market in 2021. Within that new contract we stipulated no disposable plastic beverage bottles. We also stipulated that all single-use plastic (if there is currently no alterative) must have a roadmap for removal or an alternative product. Now the machines can only stock glass, aluminium or Tetra Pak (although we acknowledge the issues with Tetra Pak, we are currently focusing on single-use plastics). At the moment, we are reviewing all items in the vending machines and determining if there are any alternatives available. The next step is to phase out items which are wrapped in single-use plastic which will involve putting significant pressure on suppliers to change packaging.
As part of updating the vending machine tender, we have also included clauses regarding stocking reuse items and will be updating vending machines on campus to stock at least one to two rows of reusable items. We also follow the ‘healthy snacks’ framework for vending as well.
Can people bring their own reusables in and how do the vendors feel about size portion differences of different containers?
This is not something we have explored in the past. At this stage, accepting customers reuse containers will be up to the discretion of the retailer. However, this is something we will tackle in time. We do have reheat stations on campus, so a lot of people bring in their own containers.
How and where do you deal with your FOGO waste?
At Union House, front and back of house organic waste is processed onsite in a food waste processor. It is then collected and taken offsite to be turned into compost.
In the Student Precinct, front of house organics is collected by the cleaners to be processed offsite via the cleaning contract. All back of house organics will be processed onsite by the Waste Master 400 and turned into compost when the new Waste Hub is complete.
Did you measure the amount of waste from each tenant? If so, how?
In Union House, no – this was not possible. In the new Student Precinct, yes, back of house waste will be collected from all tenancies by cleaning staff, weighted and recorded so accurate waste metrics will be attributable to all tenancies. Front of house collections will be measured at the building level.
Have any other universities reached out with plans to duplicate?
We have delivered presentations on the Choose to Reuse program several times, including at the ACTS conference, which has led to several conversations as to how this could be implemented. However, we are not currently aware of other universities replicating this program on this scale. We do know of other universities that have been working with individual tenancies.
Sustainability Victoria is providing co-funding to a limited number of pilots for reuse systems in different settings across Victoria.
If you would like to discuss the pilot program further, please contact our grants team via email to firstname.lastname@example.org
or phone +61 3 8656 6757.