Degree Name

Bachelor of Science (Honours)




Dr Nicole Cook and Dr Elyse Stanes


Abstract The economic and environmental consequences of household food waste have become widely recognised in popular and policy spheres. This is particularly so in consumer societies. Because 40% of landfill, by weight, is made up of household food waste (Kane, 2020) there are also growing concerns about the environmental and economic costs to regional and urban municipalities. Such concerns are also combined with interest about how to better value food waste as a resource. As household food waste continues to increase, municipalities in many consumer societies have taken steps towards implementing food composting strategies as part of diversification strategies to divert waste from landfill. However, in New South Wales, the uptake of Municipal Food Waste Composting (MFWC) has been dispersed and uneven. It is within the context and aided by a conceptual framework of ‘momentum’ (Bulkeley et al 2020), that this thesis aims to understand why local governments develop MFWC, and how such projects gain momentum against incumbent regimes of disposal of household food waste to landfill. The approach taken employed two interconnected methodologies: an analysis of Federal and NSW State policies, and interviews with council and private sector employees who support a MFWC scheme in six councils across urban and regional NSW. The analysis revealed that the presence of council-based and nearby landfill, private sector collaboration and processing facilities, mixed-use and industrial land-zoning, community desires of environmental stewardship, council-community relationships, and housing form (e.g. MUDs or detached dwellings) together afford critical agencies in the generation of momentum. However, these agencies combine differently to create momentum and friction in different contexts. Critically, this research highlights the place-based nature of momentum pointing to the need for multiple approaches to MFWC. More broadly, this research highlights the potential and the limitations of more sustainable food waste management at Federal, State and Local levels. It concludes with policy implications for the future support of local councils in managing the complexities of household food waste through MFWC.



Unless otherwise indicated, the views expressed in this thesis are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the University of Wollongong.