The University of Newcastle, Australia

Composting on campus

Organic recycling

Here at the university we divert between 40 to 60% of our waste from landfill but as part of our Environmental Sustainability Plan targets, we have committed to driving this up to 70% of our general waste by 2021. This target will position the University as a sector leader in waste management practices.

We have already been trialling an organic recycling service with our resident’s dining hall located in Edwards Hall, but from 1 June 2020 the University will expand the trial with several food and beverage outlets on Callaghan campus. Food scraps including meat and bones, coffee grounds, tea bags and any other Australian certified compostable product will now be diverted into organic collection bins.The waste will then be treated in a specialised industrial food waste disposal facility. This facility turns food waste and compostable packaging into fertilizer and green electricity through a process called anaerobic digestion.

If the back of house trial is successful in ensuring the waste is free from contamination, we will be looking to see how we rollout food recycling bins in dining locations on campus.


Did you know

  • Roughly one third of food produced ends up being wasted. When food rots in landfill it produces methane, which is 25 times more potent than the CO2 produced by cars. In addition to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, compost adds valuable organic matter back into our soils, while reducing the amount of waste going into landfill.
  • The average cafe uses 60kg of spent coffee grounds a week, while 90% of cafes across Australia send their coffee grounds to landfill.
  • The University has teamed up with an Australian first food waste energy company called EarthPower Technologies. Using anaerobic digestion technology, they convert solid and liquid food waste into a combustible gas similar to natural gas. There is an additional benefit in that the by-product of the process being a nutrient rich fertiliser.
  • The compost bins can also recycle compostable packaging and utensils as registered under the Australian Standard for Compostability (Australia: AS4736). This could include items made from sugarcane, bamboo, paper or wood.