Recycled organics publications

Publications about developing markets for recycled organics products, applications for organics, and other related organics research.

Collection systems

Assessment of Garden Organics Collection Systems
To help local councils work out the best way of dealing with their residents' garden organics, a 'triple bottom line' (financial, social and environmental) assessment of different handling systems has been undertaken.

The study looks at the costs and benefits of various options for the collection, transport, processing and disposal of garden organic material, in council areas that generate high volumes of garden organics and for council areas that typically generate low volumes.

To help local councils work out the best way of dealing with their residents' garden organics, a (financial, social and environmental) assessment of different handling systems has been undertaken.

The Co-collection of Domestic Food Waste and Garden Organics – the Australian Experience
The co-collection of domestic food waste and garden organics is conducted by a number of municipalities in Australia. In addition many trials of this service have been conducted.

This report summarises and interprets the outcomes and lessons learned from initiatives conducted to date and is aimed at assisting those councils considering the introduction of a trial or service.

Summaries of trial reports, relevant research and interviews with council officers and processors are included as well as an international review.

Managing herbicide risks

Herbicide Risk Management
The report contains sampling, testing and bioassay tools to assist industry to avoid the impact of possible herbicides in recycled organics products.

The procedures are designed to aid the Recycled Organics Industry to avoid the risk of potentially persistent herbicides in feedstocks used to manufacture value-added recycled organics products.

Persistent Herbicides
The ability of the commercial composting process to degrade three potentially persistent herbicides that may be present in garden organics was evaluated in this study.

The breakdown of clopyralid, picloram and triclopyr was evaluated in a large-scale composting process over a 16-week period.

Whilst triclopyr is readily degraded during the composting process, clopyralid and picloram can persist, and potentially impact on the growth of sensitive plants following use of compost.

Strategies for reducing the risk of these herbicides on the composting process are reviewed.

Cost studies

TBL Assessment of (Domestic) food organics management
This report is an information resource to assist councils with their decision analysis process when considering local and regional waste management and resource recovery options.

The report is the third in a series of triple bottom line (TBL) assessments commissioned by the Department of Environment and Conservation (now the NSW Environment protection Authority) on aspects of domestic waste management. The other two reports, also on this page, are:

  • Assessment of domestic waste and recycling systems
  • Assessment of garden organics collection systems.

The report has analysed a number of collection system scenarios and processing/disposal options for both Garden Organics and Food Organics and includes estimates of the costs and benefits of collection, transport, processing and beneficial re-use.

The organics collection systems analysed are:

  • No garden organics collection
  • Fortnightly garden organics collection
  • Weekly food and garden organics collection.

The report also considers the processing of organics as part of the residual waste stream (garbage) through Alternative Waste Treatment (AWT) Technology.

Life Cycle Inventory
The report documents a life cycle assessment of windrow composting systems for recycling compostable organic materials in NSW.

The study evaluated the full environmental benefits associated with processing, transport and application of recycled organic product to agricultural production systems.

Developing markets for compost products

Markets for Recycled Organic Products in NSW
Markets for recycled organic products across NSW are documented in this report.

The study assessed the development of markets for recycled organics in the Greater Sydney Region, Mid-North Coast and South East NSW for the 2002-03 financial year.

Demand for recycled organic products in urban amenity, intensive agriculture, extensive agriculture, rehabilitation, enviro-remediation and biofuels is reported. The study also documents changes in markets since the last study in 1998, and also highlights potential growth opportunities for the next three years.

Identifying Potential Agricultural and Horticultural Markets for Composted Garden Organics in New South Wales
This report evaluates potential agricultural and horticultural markets for composted garden organics in New South Wales by considering the location, size and production economics of different potential markets, identifying sites with the potential to respond to composted garden organics products based on soil characteristics and seeking out viable agricultural industries. Information obtained from stakeholders, including compost processors, certifying bodies, agronomists and researchers, was also used to identify opportunities for and potential barriers to market establishment.

On-site organics processing

Best Practice Guideline to Managing On-site Vermiculture Technologies
A report produced by the Recycled Organics Unit covering how to set up, install and manage an on-site, in-vessel vermiculture unit for processing of commercial and industrial sector organics.

Urban landscaping

Performance benefits of using recycled organics in the environment
Easy-to-read fact sheets are available to guide users on the environmental benefits of using recycled organics in a range of applications such as in domestic and commercial landscaping, parks and gardens management, construction projects, urban water management, urban renewal projects and in intensive agricultural applications (viticulture).

Using Compost Materials in the Construction of Community Parklands
This case study provides an overview of results of a trial with Penrith City Council using compost to rehabilitate a former landfill site, and assist its conversion into community parklands. Results showed that compost can significantly improve vegetation establishment, control erosion and improve the sustainability of landfill rehabilitation projects.

Using Compost Materials on Council Sporting Fields
The use of compost in the soil mix for the construction of new sporting fields, and as regular topdressing of turf can help to improve the playability of fields, and potentially require fewer inputs. The case study documents results from trials undertaken with Penrith City Council to examine the sustainability and performance benefits of using compost in the construction and maintenance of sporting fields.


Guidelines for Using Compost in Land Rehabilitation and Catchment Management
These guidelines are the culmination of many years work by the NSW Department of Environment and Climate Change in partnership with NSW DPI, the Hawkesbury Nepean CMA and Compost NSW. The project started with replicated trials on using compost for erosion control and was supplemented by large scale demonstration sites within the Hawkesbury Nepean CMA using 5500 cubic metres of compost and composted mulch. The objectives of these guidelines are to provide stakeholders with a practical framework for promoting and implementing the use of composted mulches and soil conditioners which are especially useful for addressing gully erosion, the construction of erosion and sediment control works, hill slope erosion, saline discharge areas, and other degraded soil environments.


Comparison of Recycled Organic Compost Blankets with Hydromulch in Controlling Soil Erosion under Simulated Rainfall
The use of surface applied compost or 'compost blankets' for controlling soil erosion on construction sites is a recent development. The report documents trials undertaken by the University of Western Sydney to evaluate the performance of compost blankets for soil erosion control compared to conventional practice, such as hydromulching.

Results of the study are also summarised in a fact sheet.

Improving Water Quality in Catchments Using Compost Materials
The fact sheet summarises results from a three-year project evaluating the suitability of quality recycled organic products or 'compost' for improving degraded soils, assisting in vegetation establishment and improving water quality.

Recycled Organics in Catchment Management – A Review of the Scientific Literature
This report reviews studies on the use of recycled organics in erosion control and catchment management.

Overseas research has been reviewed to inform the development of trials in NSW to assess the performance of recycled organic products for controlling erosion, helping in vegetation establishment and improving the quality of waterways.

Recycled Organics in Catchment Management
Results of scientific trials undertaken over a three-year period into the use of recycled organics for erosion control and catchment management are documented in this report.

The suitability of quality recycled organic products or 'compost' for improving degraded soils, assisting in vegetation establishment and improving water quality is documented.

Results of the study are also summarised in a fact sheet.

Application of Recycled Organics in Mine Site Rehabilitation
This publication is the final report of the research program carried out by the Department of Primary Industries and funded by the Department of Environment and Climate Change. The project investigates the role of various recycled organics in the successful establishment, survival and growth of eucalypt plantations in the rehabilitation of seriously degraded closed mine sites. The trial was in the Hunter region, part of an existing mining operation at Narama. Several composted products were trialled over the three years, including composted mulches, composted soil conditioners and biosolids.

Recycled Organics in Mine Site Rehabilitation – A Review of the Scientific Literature
A study and review on the use of recycled organics in mine site rehabilitation was conducted with the assistance of the Department of Primary Industries, Forests NSW.

Publications that documented the outcomes of the application of recycled organics in mine site rehabilitation were reviewed and a number of fully replicated scientific trials were conducted to analyse the cost benefit of the application of a range of recycled organic treatments.

The review found studies indicated that the application of recycled organic products provided benefits which improved soil structure and moisture retention and which lead to the rapid establishment of beneficial microflora and microfauna. All these factors contributed to a more viable and successful revegetation of the degraded mine sites.

Risks and Benefits Associated With Using Compost Prepared From Harvested Aquatic Weed for Improving Land Condition
Outbreaks of aquatic weeds in waterways have occurred in some parts of NSW due to low environmental flows and the ongoing drought. Where necessary, these weeds are harvested in large quantities to improve river health. This project report documents the successful use of large-scale composting for converting aquatic weeds into compost which is suitable for improving degraded soils, vegetation establishment and water quality in catchment areas.

Intensive agriculture

Developing Recycled Organic Products for Use in Viticulture
To help in developing markets for recycled organics in viticulture, a market research study has been performed to identify issues and barriers potentially affecting the use of recycled organics.

The report documents grower needs and sensitivities from workshops conducted in the five major grape growing regions of NSW.

The results of this study will be used to inform the development of product specifications for recycled organics for use in viticulture.

Extensive agriculture

Soil Carbon Sequestration Utilising Recycled Organics
Many agricultural soils in NSW are low in organic carbon and continue to decrease despite the increased use of conservation farming practices.


Using Biofilters to Reduce the Greenhouse Impact of Small to Medium Sized Landfills
The benefits of using recycled materials for reducing greenhouse gases (such as methane) and odours from small to medium size landfills is reported in this study. The study titled 'Passive Drainage and Biofiltration of Landfill Gas Using Recycled Materials' was undertaken by the University of NSW and GHD Pty Ltd, with grant funding from the Sustainability Programs Division (of the Office of Environment and Heritage), through its Research and Development Grants Program. Based on a trial system at the Bankstown City Council's Kelso landfill, the research found that methane emissions can be cut by up to 90 per cent when the biofiltration system becomes operational at an optimal landfill gas loading rate.

Handbook for the Design, Construction, Operation, Monitoring and Maintenance of a Passive Landfill Gas Drainage and Biofiltration System
The University of NSW and GHD Pty Ltd received funding from the Department of Environment and Climate Change NSW to evaluate passive drainage and biofiltration as a method for managing landfill gas. This involved the installation of 'gas drainage trenches' into the cap of a landfill, which directs the landfill gas into a layer of material consisting of compost and shredded wood and timber, referred to as a 'biofilter'.

The project found that greater than 90 per cent of methane and 97.5 per cent of odour can be removed from landfill gas. The study also found that recycled materials such as compost and crushed concrete and brick aggregate can be used successfully in the passive drainage and biofiltration system.

This sustainable and low-cost technique can help to reduce the greenhouse impacts of small to medium sized landfills as well as potentially increasing markets for a number of recycled materials across NSW.

This handbook details the work of this project and provides technical guidance on the design, construction, operation, maintenance and monitoring of biofilters.


Recycled Organic Products in Stormwater Treatment Applications
The use of recycled organic products in stormwater treatment applications for improving the quality of runoff water is a recent and novel development.

This report reviews research and current information on products incorporating recycled organics for use in stormwater treatment applications, and describes installations completed to date.

The report recommends the development of performance-based product specifications for recycled organics products for stormwater treatment applications.


The Benefits of Using Compost for Mitigating Climate Change
This report summarises an extensive and detailed literature review of the benefits of using compost for mitigating climate change.

A key objective of this report is to summarise the scientific literature on research on the use of compost and related products in mitigating climate change. Compost and related products are processed from recycled organic materials such as garden organics, food organics, crop residuals, biosolids and manures.

Diverting these materials from landfill reduces methane emissions. Applying the products leads to climate change benefits through carbon sequestration in soil, substitution of nitrogenous and other synthetic fertilisers and the flow-on effects of improved soil health and water holding capacity following their application.

For a copy of the Full Report, please email

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