South Melbourne Market wins sustainability award

The South Melbourne Market has been recognised for its recycling efforts by the Institute of Public Administration Australia’s (IPAA) Victoria Environmental Sustainability Award.

The market also won the equally prestigious Environmental Sustainability Award at the 2017 LGPro Awards for Excellence.

Port Phillip Council owns and manages the popular South Melbourne Market, and both awards were for the market’s innovative organic waste systems.

The market’s role in recycling tonnes of food, vegetable and other waste is reducing both costs and greenhouse gas emissions.

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The market’s award-winning waste program includes two processes that recycle organic waste – a vermicomposting worm farm project and the installation of a GaiaRecycle machine that heats and dehydrates organic material.

This has seen more than a 90 per cent reduction in organic waste volume at the market and spawned the production of two nutrient-rich, garden fertiliser products sold at the market.

The market’s recycling efforts has led to the processing 400 cubic metres of green waste in 2016/17 (equivalent to 22 garbage trucks) through the worm farm. Market Magic is a mix of worm faeces and mushroom compost which is sold at the market.

An onsite bottle crusher processes 15 tonnes of glass a year, and the Gaia recycling unit turns 8.4 tonnes of food and waste into compost every week which then gets sold at the market.

Polystyrene boxes are compressed into bricks which are made into a wide range of plastic products, including CD cases, coat hangers, picture frames, toys, and pens, stapler bodies and rulers. Some are used as alternatives to wood for products, such as interior decorative mouldings, or hollow foam blocks, that can be filled with concrete to form walls with better sound and thermal characteristics than conventional concrete blocks.

SecondBite also collect leftover fresh food from the market and redistribute it to people in need. Last year, the market gave nearly 24 tonnes of fresh food, which could feed nearly 50,000 people.

The IPAA award was sponsored by statutory authority – Sustainability Victoria.

“As community expectations about environmental sustainability grows and waste disposal costs rise, it’s clear that the South Melbourne’s market is hitting the mark on both counts,” Sustainability Victoria CEO Stan Krpan said.

“The South Melbourne Market’s comprehensive program could be applied to other markets and shopping centres, not just in Melbourne, but around Australia.”

“The City of Port Phillip, market management and the businesses that operate there are doing a great job to reduce the amount of waste going to landfills, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and helping vulnerable people in the community.”

Port Phillip Council Mayor Bernadene Voss said the award-winning systems were proving it was possible to successfully divert organic waste from landfill at such a large scale.

“Our market is the first retail market in Australia to adopt this technology and the results really are outstanding,” Cr Voss said. “Thanks to our twin award-winning projects, we’re already diverted from landfill about 950 tonnes of green and food waste.

“Shoppers here can take a bow too, because when they choose produce here, they automatically divert more on-site organic waste from landfill. Our stallholders also deserve praise because they’ve fully supported this innovative waste management program and helped us deliver the widespread benefits.”

“I would like to congratulate Port Phillip Council for their excellent project that pushed the boundaries and demonstrated what success in public administration looks like,” said The Institute of Public Administration Victoria CEO David Ali.

“These awards are one of the few opportunities we have as a sector to acknowledge the ‘wins’ and the people who strive for excellence across our state.”