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" Sustainable Design and Practice - Enhancing Sustainability"


WASTE - Design Charrette Theme

Design Charrette Theme

[ Design Charrette Waste Blog ]

Introduction – Waste Minimisation and Management

“The waste minimisation policy of reduce, reuse and recycle underpins the operation of the product.” (Ecotourism Australia EcoCertification)

Australia is one of the highest producers of waste per head of population in the world. In 1999 Australia ranked second, behind the USA, in terms of domestic waste generation. In most urban societies around the world, the cost of landfill (large areas of land to dump rubbish) is skyrocketing. Yet landfill fees only cover a small part of the cost. The true costs of landfill, when all burial, amenity, administration, security, replacement and on-costs are included, are in most cases at least three times the cost charged ‘at the gate’. The benefits to minimising waste are significant: it conserves valuable natural resources; it saves money through less disposal costs and more efficient practices, and; it reduces our impact on the environment.

To achieve sustainability and beyond waste management the new paradigm design should be net positive: design that reverses impacts, eliminates externalities and increases natural capital by supporting the biophysical functions provided for by nature to restore the health of the soil, air, water, biota and ecosystems. Taking the built environment as an example – to generate an increase in environmental health and natural capital, the built environment must (a) not only be retrofitted on the model of a living landscape to restore and detoxify the natural environment but (b) enable the natural environment to increase the essential life support functions that are currently undermined by status quo development.

Case study – An example of what is possible

The M&M/Mars candy factory in Waco, Texas was burdened with high off-site disposal fees and risks associated with the removal of their by-products (sludge). Looking for the most cost effective solution, the company decided to install an Eco-Machine Vertical Flow Reed Bed to de-water and compost the waste water bio-sludge on site. A Vertical Flow Reed comprises a layer of gravel as base, followed by planted reeds in a deep layer of sand. The resulting Vertical Reed Bed system (treating 70,000 litres of bio-solids per month) provided an effective way of reducing sludge and eliminated US$31,500 per year of disposal fees – at a capital cost of US$50,000 and low maintenance costs, the system will pay for itself in under two years.

References: AUSTRALIA State of the Environment Committee 2001, Australia State of the Environment 2001 – Independent Report to the Commonwealth Minister for the Environment and Heritage, CSIRO Publishing.

Sustainability Victoria (n.d.) Reduce, Re-Use and Recycle Fact Sheet. Downloadable from The 3Rs.doc

John Todd Ecological Design, Vertical Flow Reed Bed Technology 1.pdf

Inputs of delegates on the theme of waste minimization and management
Inputs of delegates on the theme of waste minimization and management


Inputs of delegates on the theme of waste minimization and management

Inputs of delegates on the theme of waste minimization and management

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