Waste and recycling

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Waste and recycling


As part of USC's commitment to reducing our carbon footprint, USC has adopted measures to manage and minimise our waste. In 2013, USC became the first University in Australia to adopt a total waste streaming system that includes onsite processing of green/organic waste and our innovative waste programs have won prestigious awards, including:

  • Highly Commended Award in the Premier's Sustainability Awards 2015
  • Australasian Campuses Toward Sustainability Green Gown Award for Carbon Reduction 2014
  • Sunshine Coast Council Good Recycling Award 2013

Since implementing the sustainable waste management program in 2013, the waste stream mix shows that a majority of waste is being diverted from landfill and is either being recycled or composted onsite. The following figures summarise changes in waste disposal at the Sippy Downs campus:

  • Paper and cardboard shows a 13% increase since 2013
  • Organic and garden waste shows a 15% increase since 2014
  • Co-mingled and mixed recycling shows an increase of 34% since 2013
  • Domestic waste to landfill shows a decrease of 26% since 2013
Waste stream mix 2013 2014 2015
Organic (incl. garden) 0 41 47.2
Waste to landfill (all sources) 89 69.7 66.2
Co-mingled/mixed recycling 9 14.2 19
Paper and cardboard 32.5 34.6 44
TOTAL (Tonnes) 130.5 159.5 186.2

On-Site Composting Apparatus (OSCA) 

The University's OSCA composting machine transforms organic waste into nutrient-rich compost for the campus gardens. OSCA can process the following:

  • All food scraps
  • The compostable plates, cups and cutlery sold at campus food outlets
  • Paper hand towels
  • Cardboard
Some of the key benefits of using OSCA include:
  • Very low energy consumption to run the machine
  • Silent processing of organic matter
  • Produces odourless compost
  • Diverts organic waste from going into landfill
  • Reduces transport costs of waste going to landfill
  • Educates people about composting
OSCA facts
  • At capacity, 50 tonnes of organic waste a year can be processed by OSCA. This represents a reduction of 60 tonnes of CO2 entering the Earth's atmosphere every year at Sippy Downs.
  • One wheelie bin full of compostable waste takes 2 weeks to be processed by OSCA into rich compost.

Waste recovery and desktop recycling

This program has been implemented at USC Sunshine Coast in campus office buildings to encourage staff to dispose of waste into a colour-coded bin collection system that separates waste into the appropriate streams to support responsible waste management.

Every staff member has a "mini-bin" on their desk, which encourages staff and students to sort their rubbish into the larger coloured bins located in communal areas.

The communal bins include:

  • Green Bin - for food and organics which are then fed into OSCA
  • Blue Bin - for paper and cardboard
  • Yellow Bin - for recycling cans, bottles and containers
  • Red Bin - for waste that goes into landfill such as plastics and wrappers

These bins are also available as Waste Recovery Stations outdoors and in campus eateries with posters displaying which items go in which bin.

Recycling at USC

Compostable catering supplies

To ensure the organic waste stream is consistent with OSCA's requirements, compostable catering products (i.e. made of 100% corn starch) such as cutlery, plates and coffee cups (including lids) are used in all food outlets on campus. Compostable catering products are a significant factor in the success of the waste recovery program and has helped the University convert 25% of its food waste to rich nutrient compost each year.

How should I dispose of my coffee cup on campus?

At USC Sunshine Coast, our campus food retailers use compostable catering supplies, including coffee cups and lids, which can be processed through OSCA.

Coffee cup origin BioPak/compostable label identifier Compostable Coloured bin
Campus retailer Yes Yes Green - compostable
Elsewhere Yes Yes Green - compostable
Any No No Red - landfill

For further information on appropriate coffee cup disposal and compostable food packaging used on campus, please view the USC disposable coffee cup and catering supplies guide (PDF 380KB)

Other waste initiatives

  • eWater cleaning technology has been introduced to the cleaning regime across campus to replace the use of commercial cleaning chemicals. The technology uses an electrical charge to a mixture of tap water and table salt to produce both a sanitiser and cleaning solution.
  • Since 2013, electronic invoicing, receipting and time sheet systems have replaced the use of paper processing.
  • Paper towels have been replaced with hand dryers in toilets on campus.
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