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Docklands Science - November 2013

29 Oct 2013

Rats are still being spotted in Docklands, while in neighbouring Melbourne CBD; the Degraves St laneway has implemented an innovative waste management facility that has fixed their rat problem.

The new waste facility has not only removed rats from the street but has also reduced the volume of waste ending up in landfill by up to 70 per cent. This has been achieved by converting organic waste – which includes food and some paper products – into soil. This process is driven by an organic dehydrator which is tucked away in Ross House. No other Australian city has a waste facility like this one located onsite.

The organic dehydrator works by extracting water from organic waste, which leaves behind matter that can be processed into soil. Once the soil has passed tests and has been deemed safe to use for gardening, it will be distributed to gardens surrounding the city – including Docklands. In the meantime, the waste management facility is reducing the volume of all waste going to landfill.

The new model challenges the current attitude towards how waste is managed. Mr Theo Roussos, owner of The Quarter Café in Degraves St, admits that in the past most businesses in the laneway didn’t give too much thought to their waste. He concedes that they used to just dump their waste out the back of the shop, or in the basement underneath Degraves St and then wait for rubbish collectors to pick it up.

“When we used to store our rubbish in the basement it would attract rats, which isn’t nice when you have hotels and restaurants in the area. The interstate tourists didn’t like it. This new approach cleans the street up a lot,” he said.

The same attitude is shared here in Docklands. Visitors are not impressed by the presence of rats.

Melinda Kimonides, who was visiting friends that live on Bourke St, noticed rats while playing basketball on the courts adjacent to Harbour Esplanade.

“I was really grossed out and scared to walk around. I was surprised to see this so close to the city.”

The City of Melbourne has said that it will duplicate this waste model across other precincts in the city. How far that plan will venture out of the CBD into neighbouring localities within the municipality, like Southbank and Docklands, is not clear.

By David Sibenaler

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