Griffith helps turn GC2018 trash into garden treasure

A pair of Griffith University researchers has investigated the application of lean and green thinking to turn food waste from the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games (GC2018) into a super dynamic compost.

Associate Professor Cheryl Desha, who is head of Civil Engineering in the School of Engineering and Built Environment, and lead researcher Savindi Caldera, who are both from Griffith’s Cities Research Institute, are validating and documenting a novel process that effectively “greens the Gold Coast with food waste” that has been collected from GC2018 venues, thereby saving it from landfill.

Click here to see how the process unfolds.

The research team engaged a Woongoolba waste processing plant to mix green waste (tree parts, twigs) and sugar cane mulch with food waste collected from Games venues (including the GC2018 Commonwealth Games Village and all venues where there were food outlets, cafes, canteens etc).

The process improves the degradation of the food waste into an organic compost that is rich with carbon and microbes.

It is hoped the compost will be used by farmers and councils for use on municipal gardens, parks and household gardens.

“The idea of food waste recycling emerged as the perfect opportunity to close the loop or keep the resources in the cycle for a longer period,” Caldera said.

“The compost made out from the food waste is used to improve the soil conditions as fertilisers to grow more food. It is about giving clean carbon back to the soil.

“There is a critical need to engage key stakeholders such as local councils, food suppliers/vendors and the community to make this closing-the-loop initiative a success.”

Caldera said the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games Corporation’s (GOLDOC) waste strategy defined their commitment to sustainable management of

waste from the Games and they were looking for environmentally responsible local companies to handle their waste.

Rocky Point, who has been processing the compost, were doing trials with food waste at the time and the Gold Coast City Council recommended the facility to GOLDOC.

“For us to take the organics from landfill – which increases their capacity and longevity – and return the finished compost to the soil was, apart from many other reasons, environmentally the right thing to do,” Rocky Point Production Manager Mark Rayner said.

“By improving soil health, farmers will return greater yields.”