University of North Carolina Chapel Hill
My research assessed the viability of a community compost site at the Melbourne Food Hub modeled after other successful compost hubs and based on local demand. I surveyed 72 people at the Alphington Farmer’s Market, located at the Food Hub site, and 31 people answered the survey online for a total of 103 responses. In addition, I interviewed ten people working with existing community compost hubs around Melbourne to find out what compost systems they use, how community members engage with the site, what their biggest problems have been, and their motivations for composting.
My survey found that the majority of the Hub’s potential users—67%—already recycle their food scraps in some way. Despite this, there is still significant interest in a swap and go system for food scrap drop-offs at the Hub, with 67% of respondents indicating they are interested or very interested in such a system. Only 3% of respondents do not compost at home and are not interested in the system. Moreover, 66% of respondents indicated they would or would maybe be interested in attending compost workshops held at the Hub. Overall, this data suggests that learning about and practicing composting is important to survey respondents, and there is high demand for a compost hub.
Interviewees working with existing compost hubs, including community gardens and community compost organizations, use a variety of methods to compost such as bay systems, worm farms, and compost bins. Compost is important to these organizations because it is a natural alternative to chemical fertilizers, it improves soil health, and diverts food waste from landfill. These compost hubs vary in their accessibility to the local community, and have attempted to educate the community through distribution of written information, personal interaction, physical signage, stickers on collection bins, and compost workshops.
Based on my survey and interview results, I recommend that the Melbourne Food Hub implements data collection and evaluation for the site early on, uses a bay system in combination with worm farming, funds someone for 4-5 hours per week to help manage the site, and creates a strong, diverse community around the Food Hub to maintain volunteers.
Environmental Sciences | Other Environmental Sciences | Sustainability
McNeill, Bailey, "The Viability of Community Composting at the Melbourne Food Hub" (2018). Independent Study Project (ISP) Collection. 2957.
Australia: Sustainability and Environmental Action