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A sustainable look at the future for Melbourne Polytechnic

Image of Repurpose It Staff
Melbourne Polytechnic and Repurpose It staff at the Epping facility.  L to R - Robert Presutti – Program Leader, Engineering Civil; Mark Smith – Program Leader, Wet Trades; Elsa Demetriou – Program Manager, Priority Industries; Dr. Sylvana Iacuone – Head of Program, Bachelor of Agriculture and Technology; Sonia Hankova – STEM Education, Banyule NillumbikTech Schools; Aristos Karavias – Head of Operations and Major Projects, Repurpose It; John McCluskey – General Manager, Repurpose It; Dr. Mohammad Khan – Lecturer, Bachelor of Engineering Technology (Civil); Ana Sanchez – Technical Adviser, Repurpose It. Photographer: Menelaos Trapalis – Lab Technical Officer, Melbourne Polytechnic.

Every day, we’re working towards more sustainable practices at Melbourne Polytechnic, leading us into a cleaner future for everyone that is part of our community.

A team of Melbourne Polytechnic staff recently had the opportunity to visit Repurpose It – a resource recovery business set on 150 acres in Cooper Street, Epping. 

The fundamental belief at Repurpose It is that landfills are a thing of the past and that all waste can be converted to a valuable resource. They breathe new life into green and organic waste, construction and demolition waste, commercial and industrial waste, and municipal solid waste

Current and future recyclable strategies 

Repurpose It' senior management and technical advisory teams gave our staff an overview of the resource recovery processes, the range of valuable repurposed materials as well as their future growth plans to repurpose packaged food waste.  Our staff had the opportunity to consider raising possible student and staff research projects.

Dr Sylvana Iacuone, Head of Agriculture Programs, has already identified potential research project topics for students undertaking the Bachelor of Agriculture and Technology including:

  • testing the compost and leachate that will be repurposed from the new organics facility (packaged food waste) for use in agricultural and horticultural settings.
  • testing the currently available topsoil (repurposed from excavation waste) in agricultural settings;
  • research into the industrial processes used in dewatering and flocculation

Exploring alternative resources, a must 

Dr. Mohammad Khan, from our Bachelor of Engineering Technology, noted that the demand for concrete by Australia’s booming construction industry is depleting finite resources such as sand. Given that 80% of materials required for concrete are composed of aggregates, the need to explore alternative sources is crucial. Repurpose It has given a new life to a range of aggregates. The MP Bachelor of Engineering and Technology students and staff will have the opportunity to conduct research into the range of fine and coarse aggregates for use in concrete.

Sonia Hankova, a Melbourne Polytechnic STEM Educator is also exploring possible challenges faced by Repurpose It that require solving  - challenges relevant for high school level students attending Tech School programs and initiatives.

Consideration for future infrastructure 

Brick and blocklaying trade students in MP’s Wet Trades area will also be mixing mortar with the bag of repurposed sand that Program Leader for Building Wet Trades Mark Smith took with him last week. Program Leader for Civil Engineering Rob Presutti will also be encouraging the Diploma and Advanced Diploma of Engineering Technology (Civil) students to consider alternative materials when carrying out research for some of their assessments.

These are some of the opportunities for both Melbourne Polytechnic and Repurpose It to collaborate on, and for Repurpose It to showcase their business.