07 Jul 2020

Organics waste diversion closes the loop

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The team at Westfield Carousel has closed the loop on tonnes of valuable, nutrient-rich food waste, transforming it into high-grade compost that is being offered free-of- charge to retail tenants, centre employees and local community groups, to boost the fertility of their own gardens.
 
Westfield Carousel’s Facilities Manager, Kim Madden, was involved in working out how to manage the organics waste stream alongside our waste management company, Veolia.
 
“Veolia introduced us to Write Solutions, a specialised organics diversion firm who helped us pilot a solution to manage our food waste in the centre,” she says.
 
The project started with a volunteer trial of about five retailers who were passionate about better managing food waste. They worked closely with facilities management, the cleaning team and Write Solutions to solve teething issues and work out bin systems.
 
“During the pilot, the amount of food waste we were able to divert from general waste doubled from seven tonnes in November 2019 to an average of over 14 tonnes per month between December 2019 and March 2020,” Kim says.
 
“We now expect these numbers to continue to increase as we roll the solution out centre-wide.”
 
In addition to all organic waste, such as meat and vegetables, being diverted into special bins at the centre’s fruit and veg retailers, coffee shops, juice bars and food outlets, Kim says the leftovers are captured too.
 
“The enthusiasm of the cleaning team has been so inspiring,” she continues. “There has been no resistance to scraping plates or moving bins between waste rooms and the docks. They have made the process so easy. From the start their attitude was, ‘Let's get this done,’ which was fantastic. Retailers who had heard about the project were approaching us to ask if they could get involved too.”

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Westfield Carousel’s cleaning team is led by Betty Larsen, who says she has enjoyed the whole process so far. “One of my responsibilities is recording waste growth and suggesting ideas for improvement,” she says.
 
“Increasing food waste has been concerning me for a while so I was very keen to help implement a system to manage this more efficiently.”
 
Betty helped with the logistics and spent a lot of time educating retailers and cleaners about contamination. “We had some fun, placing smiley stickers on a “good” bin that had no contamination and we also trained cleaners to manage incorrectly placed organics waste,” she continues.
 
“I’m happy to be contributing to the sustainability of the centre and our contribution will only get bigger as the solution gets rolled out across the whole centre.”
 
Centre Manager, Maeve Foley, says the results have been nothing short of amazing. “Sustainability is something we are increasingly passionate about. Big changes can start with small incremental adjustments and awareness raising,” she says.
 
“Benefits for the business include considerable cost savings, because it is much cheaper to recycle organics, as opposed to sending it to landfill; and our people and the community benefit because we offer the resulting compost to retailers, employees and local schools and charity organisations with veggie gardens.”
 
The Curtin University Student Guild makes use of the centre’s organic waste to produce a soil conditioner which they use on their garden.
 
Curtin University Student Guild Executive Chef, Scott Biswell, says: “Our plants are thriving and are healthier than ever. For our community it is very satisfying to know that we have diverted all that waste from landfill and that we are making a meaningful contribution to a sustainable future.”
 
Maeve says: “We can’t underestimate the impact of the changes we’re making for future generations; even small steps make a difference. Last year I received a letter from a nine-year-old customer who wanted to know about recycling at the centre. I invited her to come for a tour and it was amazing to see the dedication and passion in someone so young. I still have her letter beside my computer today as a reminder of our responsibility as a large business with a substantial environmental footprint.”
 

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