Waste and recycling
As part of USC's commitment to reducing our carbon footprint, USC has adopted measures to manage and minimise our waste. In 2013, USC became the first University in Australia to adopt a total waste streaming system that includes onsite processing of green/organic waste and our innovative waste programs have won prestigious awards, including:
- Highly Commended Award in the Premier's Sustainability Awards 2015
- Australasian Campuses Toward Sustainability Green Gown Award for Carbon Reduction 2014
- Sunshine Coast Council Good Recycling Award 2013
In 2014, the University's waste management program reduced its general landfill waste by 22%, recycling of cans, glass, plastic bottles and containers increased by 16% and compostable waste was estimated to increase by around 6%, when compared to the previous year. OSCA also composted 40 tonnes of organic matter, which makes up 25% of the University's total waste produced at Sippy Downs campus.
In 2014, 49 tonnes of commingled waste (cans, bottles, papers and containers) were recycled making up 30.4% of the total waste generated at Sippy Downs campus.
On-Site Composting Apparatus (OSCA)
The University's OSCA composting machine transforms organic waste into nutrient-rich compost for the campus gardens. OSCA can process the following:
- All food scraps
- The compostable plates, cups and cutlery sold at campus food outlets
- Paper hand towels
Some of the key benefits of using OSCA include:
- Very low energy consumption to run the machine
- Silent processing of organic matter
- Produces odourless compost
- Diverts organic waste from going into landfill
- Reduces transport costs of waste going to landfill
- Educates people about composting
- At capacity, 50 tonnes of organic waste a year can be processed by OSCA. This represents a reduction of 60 tonnes of CO2 entering the Earth's atmosphere every year at Sippy Downs.
- One wheelie bin full of compostable waste takes 2 weeks to be processed by OSCA into rich compost.
Waste recovery and desktop recycling
This program has been implemented in campus office buildings to encourage staff to dispose of waste into a colour-coded bin collection system that separates waste into the appropriate streams to support responsible waste management.
Every staff member has a "mini-bin" on their desk, which encourages staff and students to sort their rubbish into the larger coloured bins located in communal areas.
The communal bins include:
- Green Bin - for food and organics which are then fed into OSCA
- Blue Bin - for paper and cardboard
- Yellow Bin - for recycling cans, bottles and containers
- Red Bin - for waste that goes into landfill such as plastics and wrappers
These bins are also available as Waste Recovery Stations outdoors and in campus eateries with posters displaying which items go in which bin.
Compostable catering supplies
To ensure the organic waste stream is consistent with OSCA's requirements, compostable catering products (i.e. made of 100% corn starch) such as cutlery, plates and coffee cups (including lids) are used in all food outlets on campus. Compostable catering products are a significant factor in the success of the waste recovery program and has helped the University convert 25% of its food waste to rich nutrient compst each year.
Other waste initiatives
- eWater cleaning technology has been introduced to the cleaning regime across campus to replace the use of commercial cleaning chemicals. The technology uses an electrical charge to a mixture of tap water and table salt to produce both a sanitiser and cleaning solution.
- Since 2013, electronic invoicing, receipting and time sheet systems have replaced the use of paper processing.
- Paper towels have been replaced with hand dryers in toilets on campus.