Improving food waste recycling at UNSW

14 Feb 2022
Plastic Free Dining

From February 2022, new food and compostable packaging waste bins are being rolled out in staff kitchen areas across the Kensington campus.

In 2018, Estate Management commenced a food waste program across the campus with the goal to increase the quantity of food waste recycled at UNSW and to separate food waste from general waste.

The initial program started with food waste being collected from food preparation and kitchen areas across food retail outlets on campus and residential college kitchens. In early 2021, the program expanded with the introduction of Plastic Free Dining, where a new three bin system was implemented in outdoor areas on campus to segregate waste into food waste (and compostable packaging), single-use drink containers and general waste.

This program has contributed to UNSW improving environmental outcomes by maximising recycling rates and diverting waste from landfill, through dedicated recycling streams and improved waste segregation.

Based on an independent audit of UNSW general waste (red lidded bins) around 50% of the contents can potentially be recycled into compost via a food and compostable bin program.

Building on this success, food and compostable packaging waste bins are now being rolled out in staff kitchen areas across the campus. The new 60 litre food waste bins (burgundy coloured) will complement the existing recycling (yellow) and general waste (red) bins in office spaces.

How will it work?

Only food waste and compostable packaging should go into the new burgundy bins. By capturing organic and compostable material, we ensure that it can have another life as reusable waste.

Staff should continue to separate their other waste into the existing recycling (yellow) and general waste (red) bins.

The food and compostable packaging waste bins will be emptied and serviced Monday to Friday by cleaners.

Clear signage will be displayed with the bins to help ensure the right waste goes into the food and compostable packaging bins. Look for ‘compostable’ or ‘BioPak’ labels on your packaging to make sure it is suitable. Over 80% of food packaging at UNSW retailers is compostable and can go in the burgundy bins.

Food waste bin

UNSW staff can make a big difference by using the correct bin. This will reduce the possibility of the bin contents being contaminated and unable to be processed for composting. Together we can make a positive contribution to our efforts to minimise general waste going to landfill.

The rollout of these new food and compostable packaging waste bins will commence in February 2022 and will take approximately two weeks to complete.

Look for the new burgundy coloured bins in your staff kitchen areas.

To find out more about this program, visit the Estate Management intranet or contact