Published on 6 November 2013
The University of the Sunshine Coast is rolling out a new waste management system that looks set to reduce its waste to landfill by about 75 percent.
USC’s “recycling from the desktop” program began recently in four of its 16 buildings on campus and has already been hailed a success by Operations and Project Officer Paul Camilleri and Vice-Chancellor Professor Greg Hill.
It involves some simple measures, like having smaller desk bins for staff and communal recycling stations in offices, as well as the installation of a large, on-site composter that can process up to a tonne of biodegradable waste each week.
Mr Camilleri said USC had adopted a system used by Sunshine Coast Council, then adapted it to suit the university environment.
“We looked at who was already achieving best practice in this area, spoke to the environmental officers at council and watched it through to the end of the cycle to see if what they were doing suited USC,” he said. “We then customised it by introducing organic waste recycling as well.”
Mr Camilleri said the roll-out, which will continue until mid-2014, was going much better than anticipated.
“Within a week or so in each building, there has been a 75 percent reduction in general waste,” he said. “That means that most of what was once included in our general waste is now going into the other streams of organic, paper or recyclables.”
Mr Camilleri said the key to the scheme’s success was making it easy for staff to participate.
“The desk bin is the point where waste gets separated,” he said. “It’s called ‘recycling from the desktop’ because it involves managing waste from the source of waste (the desk) and managing as much waste on site as possible.”
He said benefits of the system included cost savings in general waste removal, a reduction in the use of plastic bags as bin liners, better hygiene in not having food scraps in desk bins, and greater job satisfaction of cleaners who now view themselves as waste managers.
USC Vice-Chancellor Professor Greg Hill said the new waste management program was part of the University’s strategic goal of developing for a sustainable future.
“This system will reduce the costs – both financial and environmental – of waste sent to landfill, reduce the amount of time spent on waste removal, and improve our recycling efforts,” he said.
Since the roll-out began in July, the University has received calls from numerous organisations seeking demonstrations, particularly of its OSCA (On-site Composting Apparatus) composter that was installed by Palmwoods-based company Worms DownUnder.
— Terry Walsh