An Auckland University of Technology project in partnership with The Southern Initiative (Auckland City Council), Middlemore Hospital and Resilio Studios.

Middlemore is one the largest public hospitals in New Zealand, admitting 91,000 patients per annum, and also serving more than 350,000 day-stay and out-patients. It is located in South Auckland, one of the more economically deprived areas New Zealand’s largest city. The hospital is government funded, but budgets are allocated by the District Health Board, that is also required to fund a variety of other clinics and services.

AUT university students were engaged by a local government agency, The Southern Initiative, to work with Middlemore Hospital to address the large volumes of food waste generated by the organisation. Project goals were to develop a closed-loop solution for the waste, considering cost-efficiency, ease of implementation, and environmental impacts. In the discovery phase, students analysed case-studies from local educational institutions and correctional facilities, and sought advice from permaculture experts. In the design phase, they utilised a co-design process to engage with sustainability officers, kitchen staff and patients at Middlemore Hospital.

Systems thinking led to a comprehensive strategy to address the food waste. Within the hospital, a shift in ordering times was suggested to address the overproduction of food; and organic and non-organic waste separation systems were recommended for implementation in the hospital kitchen. The organic waste would enter an industrial-scale dual composting system (complementary bokashi and worm farm systems) on the hospital grounds, with final recommendations that the compost be used in hospital gardens or offered to community groups to support a closed-loop solution.


Academic Supervisors: Lisa McEwan (AUT University); Gary Marshall (Resilio Studios).

AUT student designers: Brenna Ward, Hugo Hughes, Giulia Romano, Briana Gottler, Paula Hartland Hill.