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17 Aug 2021

Turning organic waste into fertiliser #Environment

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Through heightened engagement with our retail partners, Westfield Doncaster has more than quadrupled their yearly 2019 waste collection figure in seven months to July of 2021. With such a huge increase in diverted organic waste, came the need for a more innovative recycling solution and the successful introduction of an organic dehydrator.


Westfield Doncaster organics team from left:
Zachariah Pavlou, Millennium – Dock Master
George Rosario, Millennium – Cleaning Supervisor
Dirk Phillips, Scentre Group – Facilities Coordinator

Our Regional Facilities Manager in Victoria, Oliver Madden said: “The team at Westfield Doncaster has been working with retailers to recycle their organic waste since 2018 and the results of this engagement saw the recovery of 69 tonnes of organic waste in 2019. 

“The increased focus on retailers’ organic waste collections at Doncaster began in early 2020 as we were preparing to unveil a rooftop oasis with 13 new restaurants in the Doncaster Dining precinct at the end of the year. We wanted to consolidate our waste collection processes with our existing retail partners prior to the increase in organic waste that would be generated from additional food retailers.” 

That process began with a re-education program created by Facilities Coordinator, Dirk Phillips.

The cleaning team who managed the existing organic waste collections visited retailers to provide additional resources and education material around the process. 

Building on this engagement, each retailer was asked to nominate a sustainability champion who would act as the key contact for our centre team. 

Dirk said: “Anthony Roberts, our Retail Experience Manager, and I found that by having a champion at each retailer who was focused on communicating and implementing the organic waste recovery initiative with their team, there was a greater understanding of the process, increased participation, and we received a higher quality feedback about their waste needs and engagement. That allowed us to tailor what we were doing to support our retailers which was so important because it’s a whole of centre effort to achieve great outcomes in this area.”

When Victoria’s COVID restrictions lifted in late 2020, customers immediately returned to our Westfield Living Centres. Having already achieved tangible increases in the amount of organic waste being collected and recycled through their retailer education and engagement program to date, and with Doncaster Dining now in full swing, the team took the opportunity to intensify their focus on organic waste collection by introducing a new cleaning team member in the role of Dock Master. 

The creation of the Dock Master position established a continuous focus on waste management, including recycling and organic waste collections, within the centre. The positive impact on collection levels and simultaneous reduction in cross contamination was immediate. 

Organic collections in 2019 totalled 69 tonnes. By year end 2020 the total had increased to 130 tonnes.

By November 2020 the organic waste collections had increased to a scale that was no longer sustainable with the current recycling methods and a new innovative solution was sought.

In early 2021 the team installed an organics dehydrator. 

Retail partners now collect their organic waste in specific organic bins provided by the centre and at the end of trade, take their collections to the dock where our cleaning team manages the loading and processing of waste into the dehydrator.

Oliver said: “It’s changed what we can achieve at Westfield Doncaster.

“Where we were once limited due to the size of the docks and twice weekly organic waste collections; we can now process the bulk of our organic waste onsite within 24 hours, and we create a sustainable fertiliser by-product in the process. 

“The fertiliser produced by the dehydrator is distributed to multiple vegetable farms in Gippsland as well as to a fertiliser processing plant for further refining. In addition, having the dehydrator has reduced the Co2 emissions that were generated by twice-weekly organic waste pick-ups and creates a cleaner, safer dock space for our people and retail partners. 

As at 30 June 2021, Westfield Doncaster’s organic waste collections sit at over 200 tonnes, with a record collection in May 2021 of more than 50 tonnes.