World First Composting Hackathon

The aim for Yarrabilba (South East Queensland) to become Australia’s first ‘sustainable food city’ gave rise to the recent world first compost hackathon.

As part of a Food Agility CRC project, Queensland University of Technology (QUT) and Lendlease invited tech-savvy members of the community to help develop a prototype for community composting and compost use for local food production. The event was organised as a ‘Hackathon’ – which brings together coders, developers and designers around a common cause. Hackathon competitors were asked to come up with an innovative design to build a digitally-enabled community composting system of the future. “No mean feat, when you only have a weekend to come up with a plan for a better world” said one participant.

Around 30 hackathon and composting enthusiasts followed the call to develop a framework for a high-tech community-based organics recycling and food production system where in-situ monitoring and data collection facilitates a 'green credits' rewards and incentives based local circular economy for organics.

Fun, Food and Connections

Fun, food and connections was the motto of the hackathon, which was hosted and facilitated by Substation 33 in Logan, south of Brisbane. The event included peer-to-peer skills exchange and collaboration, roving tech/innovation/business mentors and the opportunity to meeting Leanne Kemp, Queensland’s Chief Entrepreneur. Team names such as Rawesome Foursome, Rumble Tumble, Green Cycle, Throw’n’ Grow and Wastey Boyz is a good indication that everyone had a good time. But it was also hard work for all competitors, who developed for example a fully integrated network of existing and start-up companies to make the circular economy for organics work, to put together the prototype of a sensor driven rotary home composter, or to come up with a sensor enabled organics collection bin that rejects non-organic materials. Prize money of $1,000 for the winning team was incentive enough for competing teams to put on the thinking cap and burn the midnight oil. In the end, the judges selected the Wastey Boyz as the winning team, and presentation of the prize money in form of an old fashioned cheque gave most of them the opportunity to see a fossil of our payment system for the first time in their lives.

Dr Carol Richards from QUT who leads this ground breaking project was happy with the outcome of this first ever composting hackathon, saying that the winning team will be invited to work with Susbstation 33, an e-waste recycling and digital innovation social enterprise, to further develop the prototype with the aim of piloting the new innovation at the Yarrabilba master planned community.