Recycling local waste as substrates for edible mushroom cultivation in the context of "Blue economy".

Working with the industrial partner Lifecykel, this project explores the potential of local urban wastes such as such as coffee grounds and recycled paper as cultivating substrates for edible mushrooms. Compared with the current substrate, the project is expected to target alternative substrates and potentially elevate the efficacy of recycling waste. The research aims to contribute to fields including climate change, waste management and food demands.

This Master of Environment project is being undertaken by Hexing Yang in 2017-2018

The potential of grassroots sustainability movements to address a social justice agenda: a case study of the Transition Town Movement in Melbourne

Current social norms of free market economic practice and continued fossil fuel consumption are increasingly questioned as global stresses such as climate change and peak oil loom nearer. While these crises will need to be addressed from both top-down and bottom-up initiatives, grassroots movements are expected to play a growing role in tackling these complex challenges in transitioning towards a more sustainable future. 

This study investigates the capacity of a growing and promising grassroots sustainability movement, the Transition Town Movement (TTM), in addressing these crises. While these crises are inextricably both environmental and social in nature, the majority of the literature on transition towns thus far has focused only on the ability of the TTM to address environmental challenges, while the social aspects have been largely neglected. This study thus investigates the capacity of the TTM, and by extension other similar grassroots movements, to foster social justice in creating a socially inclusive state.

This research was completed by Max Ricker in October 2016, and his thesis is available from The University of Melbourne on request via here


Banner image: Ari Barker under Creative Commons




Modelling a renewable and energy independent community in the Gold Coast Hinterland, Queensland


Australia’s electricity system is fossil fuel reliant and highly centralised, making it vulnerable to shocks. The community of Tamborine Mountain in South East Queensland has experienced the inherent vulnerability of a centralised system through extended outages as a result of weather and maintenance events. This study addresses Tamborine Mountain’s potential transition to a more secure and independent net positive renewable energy system, in two separate but linked studies

This research was completed by Isobel Graham in June 2017, and her thesis is available from The University of Melbourne on request via here.

Read more:

Are communities the answer to our renewable energy needs? blog post

Building a typology of best practice Social Impact Assessment: a study of community-based agreement-making in the resource sector

This research focused on developing resource sector Social Impact Assessment (SIA) by studying leading examples of community based agreement making. The work aims to develop better practices in SIA and increase understanding of community needs prior to development, leading to a more equitable sharing of benefits.

This research was completed by Oliver Hill in June 2017, and his thesis is available from The University of Melbourne on request via here

Reducing landfill use in Burnley campus

The University of Melbourne looks to become a sustainable High Education Institution by using its campuses as living laboratories. In waste management, the University has been setting targets and encouraging recycling and waste prevention practices among the community to reach them. However, little information is known about the performance of small campuses like Burnley. In the first study of this research, we performed a waste characterization and modelled the waste stream of Burnley campus using the Material Flow Analysis methodology to determine the recovery potential and the materials that should be targeted for reduction or increased collection to reach different waste management goals. In the second part of the study, we provided to the campus community informational feedback on their recycling efforts through signs posted next to the recycling bins and evaluated the effect of the intervention on the recyclables collection and contamination of the recycling bin. The results obtained from this study will be useful to design strategies that allow to increase the recycling performance and minimise the landfill use of Burnley campus.

This research was completed by Jose Lopez in October 2018, and his thesis is available from The University of Melbourne on request.