Waste Management is an Economic growth Agenda – Discussing the issue with the Ballarat residents at Ballarat City Town hall.

It was a packed day for us, as we wrap up the interviews, data collection and pouring over historical data. As I spend more time on this issue, I realize waste management is not a simple issue, or should I say it is not all about the technical solutions. Let me explain, while we all have spend a lot of time in researching technology around waste Management, and there are several solutions to address the problem of resource recovery and recycling, finding the right solution with constraints is truly a challenge. There are considerations such as investment objectives, sentiments of the population, availability of waste material for an achievable ROI – return on investment and support of the community for a solution that makes sense for them. So for instance, if I were to broadly categorize the waste management technical solutions, they would be:

  1. Compost– it is an organic matter that has been decomposed and rich in nutrients. Can be used in gardening and agriculture as a fertilizer and soil conditioner.
  2. Anaerobic Digestion – Breaking down of biodegradable material like food and green waste in absence of oxygen. This process reduces the emission of landfill gas, and gas produced in process can be used as energy source for heat and power gas engines.
  3. Incineration –Combustion of organic waste. This process converts the waste into fuel gas, heat and ash. Incineration helps is reducing the landfill mass and convert waste to energy.

The above is by no means an exhaustive lists, and there are many Thermal and non-thermal options available. To identify a solution that meets the following criteria:

  1. Investment options – Return on Investment (ROI), Build, Own, Operate (BOO), Build, Own, Operate, transfer (BOOT), Build, Own, Operate, outsource (BOOO) etc.
  2. Suitable to meet the needs of the region – The Waste matrix, which will enable us to choose optimum Waste management technology
  3. Availability of feedstock – The material needs for a sustainable processing to generate energy or any other byproduct. This is important for investment decision into Waste management processing technology.
  4. Market for Waste Management process output – The sustainable market for byproduct of the waste processing. The whole point is to reduce landfill and efficiently use the waste as a resource
  5. Sentiments of the community – Last but not least and most important of all, is to garner support from the community – which is the largest investor and benefactor of the choice technology.
  6. And more…

Today IBM Smarter Cities Challenge – Ballarat Team– we hosted a drop-in session for Ballarat residents at Ballarat City Town hall. The intent was to discuss the issue first hand and solicit feedback from the community. Many interested and passionate citizens showed up and discussed the issue with our team, they also described their issue and many came up with some brilliant ideas, so I would say that the event was a success. We did get to mine for some great ideas, and above all got the community involved. Marketing skills of our team (lead by Mike) did a professional job in organizing the event and collecting real time data. The format of the drop-in session was simple; we had 3 simple steps for the citizens to participate:

  1. Creating a Vision – this is where they would describe the headlines they envision for their city in relation to waste management.
  2. Ideate – this section they were able to use ‘post-it’ notes to provide ideas on how to achieve the vision. And
  3. Waste management technology choice – this is where they got to vote and comment on the three broad categories of waste management technology, namely, Composting, Anaerobic Digestion and Incineration.


We were able to capture some interesting ideas from this exercise and we plan to factor these in our final presentation, which is little over a week away.

As a part of our Smater Cities Challenge community engagement and volunteer efforts, we went to visit BADAC. It was an interesting visit, and we got to learn a little about the indigenous or Aboriginal history and culture. We also discussed the some of the operational challenges of BADAC, as a not for profit organization.

A little about BADAC it stands for Ballarat and District Aboriginal Co-operative. BADAC is the Aboriginal Community-Controlled Organization for the Ballarat and district area. The core focus on this not for profit organization is assisting the aboriginal communities with prevention, early intervention, health care and career guidance. It was heart warming to see the effort of the folks at BADAC, who are selflessly making effort to service their mission effectively and efficiently. We spend some time wit them, learning about their mission, efforts and operations, and did provide some fruitful discussion on some changes that we think can assist with some of their operational challenges. We also got to purchase some aboriginal arts and artifacts, which was a treat.

More as we make progress!




  1. http://www.badac.net.au/
  2. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indigenous_Australians



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