Food Waste

Many staff groups around campus are actively engaged in a number of organic waste initiatives.

Go Green – Waste as little food as possible.
Use Discretion – Compost any food scraps and organic waste.
Stop – throwing food into landfill bins.

Composting Basics

What to add to your office compost:What not to add:

Vegetable and fruit scraps, tea bags and coffee grounds, flowers.

Animal products (meat, dairy, etc), magazines, synthetic chemicals.

Choose a container that works for you and is easy to carry.  Label it clearly with something like 'Compost: Please donate tea bags & coffee grounds/veg & fruit scraps here' This is also important to ensure the compost bin does not get mistaken for landfill waste.

Place it on your office kitchen counter or breakroom table.

Chat with your office colleagues about the compost bin. Good to emphasise 'no animal products.' Paper towels and other biodegradable things are OK although it's good to stick to the basics with food waste.

Depending on how much accumulates in the bin, you will need to empty the bin 1-2 times a week.

Options include:

  • Bringing the compost home for personal garden use.
  • Donating the compost to the University's Community Garden, located off Monash Rd, in between buildings 161 and 163.

Start a Compost Bin at home. Check the City of Melbourne's how-to guide on composting.

If you want highly detailed composting information, download Sustainability Victoria's handy composting PDF.

How to establish a UoM Worm Farm

Worm farms enable vermiculture, the process of composting organic food waste (including fruit, vegetables, tea, coffee and paper) using various species of worms to create compost.

Vermiculture is an effective way to significantly reduce the amount of kitchen waste that goes to landfill, where it would produce harmful methane gases.

A wonderful by-product of vermiculture is the nutrient-rich liquid organic fertiliser, suitable for use on gardens and potted plants. Staff would be rostered to take this home in suitable containers.

There are two styles currently recommended: The Hungry Bin Worm Farm and RELN's series of portable wormeries.

Hungry Bin Worm Farm
Hungry Bin worm farm

The ‘Hungry Bin’ Worm Farm

This container can process up to 2 kg of organic waste per day and utilises a continuous flow system.

The unique shape of the bin creates a large surface area, allowing the worms to easily access the food scraps at the top, allowing them to process more waste, more quickly. The tapered sides encourage the worms to stay on the surface, where they eat the food waste, which they convert into worm castings.

The castings are pressed down to form compost (in the lower section of the worm farm) or liquid waste (in the drip tray below the central unit). Both forms of compost can be easily removed for use on gardens and potted plants.

The worm farm is odourless and can be left outdoors year-round.

This type can be purchased from hardware stores or on-line for approx. $325

RELN Garden Worm Farms

The RELN Garden’s Can-O-Worms® or the rectangular Worm Café® are the traditional worm farms suitable for indoor/outdoor use.

RELN Worm Cafe

Both the Worm Café® and Can-O-Worms® have mounds that encourage worms to move from the collector trays to the working trays in search of fresh organic waste.. A unique flow through ventilation improves performance and prevents collected tea from turning anaerobic. Keeping air flowing without allowing rain to fill the farm and drown your worms.

Legs with ant caps and a fly proof lid help prevent ants from climbing and insects from getting into the worm farms.

These types can be purchased from most hardware stores or on-line for approx. $90 or less

RELN Can-O-Worms

How the process usually works at UoM:

  • Seek permission from your department.
  • Kitchen food scrap bins (measuring approximately 25 cm high by 15 cm across) will be purchased.
  • Easy-to-read signage indicating what types of kitchen waste can and can't be put into the bins can be downloaded from our resources page.
  • Kitchen duty staff or members of the Worm Farm or Green Impact Team would empty the contents of the waste bins from each kitchen into the worm farm once a day.
  • The worm farm needs very little ongoing maintenance, just a stir with a trowel once a week and the castings and liquid waste removed periodically.
  • Gardening gloves and a cloth will also be purchased, should staff wish to use them when emptying the kitchen bins into the worm farm.
  • Ideally the worm farm should be kept in a shady, ventilated area out-of-doors, but we have seen them successfully operating inside offices, in car-parks - there is nowhere worms cannot go!