At South Melbourne Market, sustainability is something we are passionate about and we’re striving to reduce our environmental footprint and create a sustainable Market for future generations to enjoy.

The Market continues towards a greener, more sustainable future with the following initiatives implemented throughout 2016-17.

Recycling Organic Waste

Vermicompost Worm Farm Project
In 2016-17 approximately 400 cubic metres of green waste was taken to a worm farm, reducing our green waste onsite by approximately 98%. All our green waste is collected twice a week and taken to a farm on the outskirts of Melbourne and fed to millions of worms, which turns our green waste into worm castings or vermicompost. This nutrient-rich vermicompost contains minerals and a highly active biological mixture of bacteria and enzymes that are beneficial to plant growth.
The Market now sells this, combined with mushroom compost as organic fertiliser called Market Magic.

South Melbourne Market - Market Magic vermicompost
Market Magic is described as a garden fertiliser produced by earthworms fed on Market fruit & vegetable waste. It’ll supercharge your garden.

The Gaia Recycling Unit:
The rest of our organic waste is collected and funnelled into our onsite 1200 litre Gaia machine, significantly improving our landfill diversion for our organic, non-green waste in 2016-17 to 75%. This machine heats the waste, shreds it and activates a very fast fermentation and dehydration process, turning it into a dry product called SoilFood™ in just ten hours.

SoilFood™ is rich in concentrated nutrients and makes an excellent high-nitrogen, slow release plant fertiliser. It is also for sale at the Market.
Waste that is processed in the Gaia includes coffee grounds, fish offal, prep waste from restaurants and cafés, left over waste from customers, deli waste, bread, high acidic products such as citrus, pineapples, onions and more.

The Market is processing 8.4 tonnes of waste through the Gaia per week, equating to over 430 tonnes of waste per year diverted from landfill.

South Melbourne Market SoilFood

The Benefits

  • Reduction of organic waste in landfill saving landfill space for other purposes and eliminating the anaerobic rotting of the waste which generates methane and leachate.
  • Elimination of carbon emissions that result from transporting the waste to landfill.
  • What was previously discarded as waste now has an environmental (soil) value.
  • The economic payback from the process arises from the long-term reduction or elimination of fees for hiring skips or bins and paying landfill tipping fees.
  • Completing the circle on food waste from South Melbourne Market – with nothing to landfill, benefits back to community and the earth.
  • South Melbourne Market and its owner the City of Port Phillip as leaders in waste diversion, sustainability and innovation.
  • Being part of a meaningful change and providing a Market for future generations.


The Market has an onsite bottle crusher where 100% of the glass at the Market is crushed for recycling. 80% of the crushed glass is recycled into glass bottles while 20% of the crushed glass is used in road base & as a paint additive. The size of the crushed glass enables it to be sorted by colour using an optical process.

Each year the Market crushes approximately 15,000 kg of glass, with a reduction in CO2 emissions equivalent to 31,000 kms driven in a family car per year.

Approximately 10,800 litres of oil was collected from the Market in 2016-17. The majority of this gets turned into biodiesel which fuels the vehicles owned by the company that collects the oil.

Glass crusher South Melbourne Market

All polystyrene boxes are compacted at the Market in our poly-compactor, and made into polystyrene bricks. This reduces the volume of polystyrene by 98%. The compressed bricks are collected and then melted and remoulded into different plastic products including CD cases, coat hangers, picture frames, toys, and office supplies such as pens, stapler bodies and rulers.

Poly-compactor South Melbourne Market

They are also utilised to manufacture wood alternative products such as interior decorative mouldings. Hollow foam blocks are produced that are then stacked and filled with concrete to form building walls. These walls are more sound proof and provide greater thermal insulation, making cooling and heating more efficient.

Food Rescue

SecondBite collected 23,979 kilograms of fresh food from the Market in the last financial year. This equates to nearly 50,000 meals to those in need from the South Melbourne Market alone. The biggest proportion of donations is vegetables, making up 50% of the fresh food, with fruit making up 26%.

SecondBite work with over 1,200 community food programs across Australia to redistribute rescued food to those in our community who need it most. The organisations they work with make a real difference to peoples’ lives, providing food, support, hope and friendship.


“Every week during the school terms fresh fruit is provided in all study areas to students to eat thanks to a partnership between SecondBite and Roxburgh Secondary College. Fruit is a great source of important vitamins and minerals, disease-fighting antioxidants and gut-healthy fibre and assists with concentration when learning.” – Jacinta Lenehan, Roxburgh College, Roxburgh Park

Waste Reduction

Big Belly Bins
The Market has three solar bins (Big Belly Bins). These bins are a self-contained compactor bin that reduces waste by compacting it. The bin can therefore hold 560 litres of rubbish compared to the same sized standard 240 litre public bin. The bins also provide real time status and data. The bin sends a message to the collector when it is ready to empty. The collection of the waste is significantly reduced by approximately 75%, saving both time and money. With a compacting ratio of 6:1 the reduction in landfill size is significant.

Water Management

Potable Water
Potable water usage for 2016-17 was approximately 29,235.215 kL (2015-16 25,980 kL). The increased usage can be attributed to new stalls including Bambu, Little Town Pie Co and the Miss Nail Bar upgrade.

Rain Water
The Market’s 500,000 litre rainwater tank, located in the York Street car park, has collected approximately 1.24 million litres of water from the rooftop car park per year since it’s installation in April 2014. This water is used for wash down applications, by florists and to flush the toilets.

Florist rainwater use South Melbourne Market

The Market’s water usage is monitored by data loggers that measure how much potable and rainwater the Market is using at any given time, and can also indicate unusual water activity that could mean leaks and the location. The Market’s water-metering project will now make each stallholder responsible for the water they are using.

Water Stations
The Market purchased three new water fountains. One is on Cecil Street which is accessible 24 hours a day and has a dog bowl facility, and two inside the Market, all with water bottle refill facilities. Since installing the two internal stations in March 2017 the Market has diverted the equivalent of over 7,750 plastic bottles of water from landfill.

Solar Power

The Market has a 34kW PV solar panel system installed on the roof of the car park. This has produced 48,580.67kWh of energy, giving the Market a power reimbursement of approximately $6,000 per year, and an annual reduction of 59 tonnes of CO2 emissions.

South Melbourne Market Rooftop Solar Panels