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How This Australian Precinct Reduced Food Waste By 90 Percent

“The education has been enormous. People think about waste now.”
The Degraves Street district.
The Degraves Street district.

Some folks Down Under are over food waste.

A precinct in the city of Melbourne, Australia, has implemented a food-waste recycling program that has reduced its organic rubbish by 90 percent.

According to ABC News (Australia), each week 5,500 pounds of food scraps from 90 businesses in the Degraves Street precinct are dehydrated and turned into fertilizer for parks and gardens through out the city.

The program costs the City of Melbourne AU$300,000 (about $221,000) annually and provides work to seven employees.

"What we've seen immediately is a cleanup of the [street], so that's an amenity issue," councilor Arron Wood from the City of Melbourne told ABC. "We've also had a 40 percent reduction in CO2 emissions."

Staff members from businesses within the district, many of which are restaurants, take their organic waste to a machine on Degraves Street owned by the sustainability company Eco Guardians. The machine, called GaiaRecycle, breaks down the waste at a high temperature, stripping it of its moisture. The soil derived from the food waste is processed for a few hours and due to the high temperature at which it’s processed, the soil comes out sterile and pathogen free.

Before the city decided to start the Degraves Street Recycling Project in 2013, it did a waste order of all the businesses in the area — 33 at the time — and found that between them, they were creating 1,500 pounds of food waste per day.

“Before the recycling it was … not the best, shall we say?” Melanie Ashe, president of the city precinct, said in a video produced by the Melbourne City Council. But she adds: “The education has been enormous [in the district]. People think about waste now.”

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