Local waste remixed into raingardens

Two people working in a studio with PVC pipe

Imagine living in a zero-waste city.

We’ve got an ambitious strategy to achieve this vision, working together with business and community to reduce, collect and process waste in innovative ways.

One small but mighty part of this vision involves raingardens – technically designed gardens that filter and manage rainwater flow.

These nifty, layered garden beds help avoid flooding, which is particularly important in low-lying areas like Fishermans Bend.

Raingardens also support plant growth to create healthy habitats for wildlife.

But there’s a problem.

Conventional raingardens are typically constructed using freshly quarried soil, sand and rubble. Ultimately, this isn’t very sustainable.

A person with blonde hair talking at a podium
Amira Moshinsky

Amira Moshinsky and her team from the University of Melbourne have won our Fishermans Bend Innovation Challenge with a smart idea to make raingardens more sustainable and cost-effective.

‘We realised that rather than using scarce and often costly resources, we could use high-volume waste streams, such as glass, concrete and organic waste to form the layers within the raingarden beds,’ Amira said.

‘I’m passionate about the ability to upcycle wasted materials into a product that can enhance urban resilience and be used as a tool to educate the community on circular economy ideals.’

‘We are really excited by the widespread involvement and support this project has gathered.’

Over the coming months, we’re supporting Amira’s team to test and trial raingardens made from locally generated waste, firstly in a garden nursery setting, then in the public realm at Fishermans Bend.

Sensors will help the team understand which designs and combinations of waste materials have the best impact on water management, micro-climate, soil and plant health, and the local community.

If the concept is proved viable, Amira hopes it can be rolled out far and wide, inspiring more circular, sustainable innovation projects.

A person pouring water into a tube
A team member testing a raingarden design

‘There’s a lot of potential for circular economy innovation in Melbourne. There are a lot of resources and money that could be used to make both environmentally and economically viable products,’ Amira said.

‘My vision is to see the “remixed” raingardens implemented throughout Fishermans Bend and across Melbourne. And hopefully all-around Australia too one day, accounting for variations in local climate.’

The Remixed Raingardens project is a collaboration between the City of Melbourne, the Victorian Government, Development Victoria and the University of Melbourne’s Opportunity Lab.

It has also brought together diverse faculties within the university, including engineering and IT, landscape architecture, and ecosystem and forest sciences.

You can keep in touch with Amira team’s progress on the Remix Raingardens Instagram channel.

To find out more about our plans for Melbourne’s cleaner, greener future – from neighbourhood batteries to zero-carbon buildings – visit Our Sustainable City.

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