In Summary

  • Food scraps from cafes will convert to compost within 24 hours
  • Compost then used by Swinburne’s horticulture department
  • Composter will live in Hawthorn’s SPS building

Swinburne has taken a step further in its sustainability footprint by installing an in-vessel composter in the basement of the SPS building at the university’s Hawthorn campus.

The closed loop composter will receive food scraps from a selection of cafes in the SPS precinct and has the ability to convert waste into reusable compost within 24 hours.

The compost will be then handed over to Swinburne’s horticulture department, where it will be used to grow fruit and vegetables.

Greg Taylor, owner of Café Gomez, was the first to utilise the new machine and says he’s more than happy to be given such an opportunity.

greg taylor in cafe gomez making coffee
Greg Taylor making coffees at his cafe in the SPS precinct, Cafe Gomez.

“It’s so great to see the shop’s waste actually contribute to something meaningful. It’s up to people like us to do something for our future and we’ve been given a chance to join in and take action,” Greg says.

The installation of the composter is not only pushing Swinburne toward a greener future, but is part of a larger research project, involving Swinburne’s Dr Vivienne Waller , Professor Linda Blackall and Dr Belinda Christie.

Funded by the CRC for Low Carbon Living, the research aims to compare off-site and on-site composting, investigate the microbes involved and encourage people’s engagement with the composting process and the resulting compost.

“Swinburne is working closely with industry, state and local government to ensure this research can help shape policy that recognises the value of food waste when it is composted, and how it can be done most effectively,” Dr Waller says.

She believes the composter will not only assist her team’s research, but will help guide the university towards a more sustainable future.

“Without this composter, these food scraps would otherwise rot in landfill, producing greenhouse gases and toxic leachate. Swinburne is helping support a greener future and I’m more than proud to be a part of it.”

The installation of the in-vessel composter at Swinburne is also just in time for International Compost Awareness Week, which runs through Monday 2 May-Sunday 8 May.