Upcycling domestic food waste: Optimising success for the home composter

Ms Sally Harrison1, Mr Ronen Mazor2, Dr Samantha Grover1

1RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia, 2Maze Distribution, Clayton, Australia

Microbial decomposition of organic matter is the underlying mechanism that enables us to reduce the volume of our domestic food waste and transform it into valuable compost. This upcycled product can enhance the physical, chemical and biological properties of soil, enabling us to grow healthier plants and tastier food in our urban environment. There is widespread scientific understanding of the conditions conducive to microbial decomposition of organic matter. Internal factors (physical and chemical composition of the food waste; size, activity and composition of the microbial community) and external factors (temperature, water content, aeration, additives) all play a role. This research explores which factors are the most important to the specific application of home composting in urban Australia. The project seeks to develop recommendations for the home gardener as to how these factors can be optimized to produce compost faster. The approach is grounded in the needs and realities of the industry serving the home compost market, with a combination of laboratory and full-scale field trials. Communication and interpretation of results in formats that engage and inform a general public audience are an integral part of this research collaboration between RMIT University and Maze Distribution.


2011-2016: PhD Candidature – Aquatic pesticide analysis
Melbourne Water and Water Quality Research Australia
RMIT University.
2000-2006: PhD Candidature – Biosensor Technology
CRC for Microtechnology, RMIT University.
2000: Awarded an Australian Postgraduate Research
Award Scholarship.
2000: Bachelor of Applied Science (Honours)
(Environmental Science) First Class Honours, RMIT University
* Certificate of Commendation (in recognition
of academic achievement)
1999: Bachelor of Applied Science (Environmental Science) RMIT University
* Certificate of Commendation (in recognition
of academic achievement)
2000–current: Instructor and Demonstrator
Courses: Environmental Science, Analytical Chemistry,RMIT University

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