Prahran Market – leading the charge in recycling and waste recovery!

News | 28 February 2019


Prahran Market might well be one of Melbourne oldest markets but it’s certainly taking a 21st century approach to waste - using the latest technology to recover resources that would previously have gone to landfill.

Using a mix of recycling initiatives, the past year has seen three quarters of the market’s waste recovered and recycled. And, considering the market’s 100 plus businesses and nearly three million visitors each year, those recyclable tonnages certainly start to add up!

Since installing its state-of-the-art food waste recycling plant in early 2017, the market has converted an impressive 275 tonnes of food, organics and fish offal into rich garden compost.  The compost is used for agriculture and offered to market visitors for a gold coin donation, with the proceeds going to local charities.  Some of the compost is even collected by flower farms and organic food growers who then sell their flowers and produce back to the market!  

Compost is not the only useful product to come out of the recycling plant, with around 233,000 kilolitres of water harvested from processed waste annually.  The water is used to service the market’s public amenities, resulting in much less water use and significantly lowering water consumption costs.

Thanks to the market’s close relationship with food rescue charity, Second Bite, not all unsold produce is destined to be food waste. Every Sunday, all surplus quality, nutritious food is sorted, collected and distributed to people in need in the community.  This includes everything from fresh produce to bread, meat and deli items.  Prahran Market has been supporting Second Bite since the charity began operations in 2005 and, since then, has donated in excess of 250,000 meals to the organisation.  

Prahran Market has also invested in onsite polystyrene processing, and in the past year recycled over 37 tonnes of the product.  The processing plant melts the polystyrene which is sent off to be repurposed into packaging, building insulation and safety equipment.

Cardboard is another recycling win for the market, with an impressive 16 tonnes recycled each month.  The cardboard is sorted into ‘dry’ and ‘waxed’ with the dry cardboard sent for recycling and the waxed despatched to a company for processing into firelighters.

Single-use plastics are also on the radar, with traders encouraged to replace these non-recyclables with paper and reusable options. Prahran Market also sells a range of shopping bags made from recycled materials, offering a reusable, practical and attractive keepsake for visitors.

The market’s eateries and food outlets are chipping in by storing used olive and cooking oils which are collected and turned into products like biofuel, animal feed, detergents, soap and paints.  This is on top of the 220 tonnes of fat and bone that was turned into fertiliser and stock feed last year.

The latest initiative introduced in the market is glass bottle recycling. The bottles are ground down, with the crushed glass collected monthly and turned into new glass jars, bottles and other products.  Since glass recycling was introduced the market has collected on average 260kg a month.

Prahran Market is an excellent example of how, if we work together, we can make a huge difference, recovering and reusing recyclables, and making sure they don’t end up in landfill.