Exploring waste

Week 3| Design Thinking in IPD | Spring Semester 2015 | UTS

The brief

This week, we explore the waste management practices of my local council and link it to how waste is handled at home. The goal is for my findings to inform my product design practice towards social responsible design. For me to make suggestions and develop insights.

Recycling begins at home

I live in a studio apartment in UTS Student Housing at Yura Mudang . As you can see, I'm given an ample assortment of bins so that I could pre-sort my trash and segregate the recyclable items from biodegradable garbage.

3 types of bins lined up side by side
Figure 1: Different bins provided at my studio apartment

After I've filled up the trash bin inside the studio, I am to take them to the garbage room on my floor. There are two chutes: one where I can throw recyclable stuff and the other for general garbage. As you can see,there are plenty of signs pointing to what to do and what not to do. Plus we are also reminded of these instructions during the induction meetings at the start of each semester. Still sometimes I see some misplaced garbage in the room. I suppose as they say you can lead a horse to water but you can't make it drink.

two garbage chutes with lots of sticker signs & instructions
Figure 2: Inside the garbage room in my floor

There is also a big tub in our floor for large recyclable items like furniture packaging and large bottles.

Big white plastic tub filled with cardboard
Figure 3: Recycling tub at my floor

Valuable items that a student no longer wants can also be left at a Free Store on Level 2 so that other students who may want to use them can just pick them up. At the beginning of a new semester, tables are also left out near the lifts where departing students can leave valuable stuff that may be useful to incoming students.

Freestore at Level 2 Freestore womens section
Figure 4: Freestore on Level 2

What happens next?

The rubbish down the chutes goes into a central garbage collecting room in level 2. I made a query to the Residential Life & Learning Supervisor who promptly replied that Perpetual Property Care, the cleaning company Yura Mudang uses—and who sends cleaners every forthnight to clean my studio— also arranges waste collection as part of their contract. Perpetual in turn uses the company Cleanaway for general waste and recycling services.

large garbage skips with people standing around the room
Figure 5: central garbage room on Level 2

Perpetual Property Care

My review of Perpetual's website did not yield much. They display on their website certifications for Quality (ISO 9001), Environment (ISO 14001), Health & Safety(AS 4801). I emailed the contact address in the website and a director offered to take my call to discuss.


According to their website Cleanaway is part of the Transpacific Industries Group— a publicly listed company that provides ‘ a total waste management, recycling and industrial services solution.

I reviewed the General waste and recycling services section. They provide a general waste disposal service for rubbish, plastic bags & wrappers. They have several bin systems available: 2 wheel and 4 wheel plastic bins, steel bins, skips and bulk bins, large compactors and cardboard balers.

lots of pictures of industrial flatteners of cardboard
Figure 6: Google image search result for 'cardboard baler'

Green Living Centre

High street in King Street Newtown
Figure 7: Green Living Centre, Newtown
Inside a shop in King Street Newtown
Figure 8: Waste management solutions inside Green Living Centre, Newtown
Inside a shop in King Street Newtown
Figure 9: LED lighting innovation & special materials collection