Sustainability at the Market

Queen Victoria Market aims to provide its customers with a high quality lifestyle experience.  We consider that running a sustainable operation is one element of this experience.

We are committed to ensuring that our operating activities occur with minimum environmental impact.  Below are some of the initiatives introduced to ensure that we achieve this.

Going Plastic Bag Free

In July 2010, Deli Hall and Meat Hall traders at Queen Victoria Market began phasing out plastic bags with a campaign to ‘Bag the (Plastic) Bag’.  In an effort to encourage patrons to rethink their use of plastic bags and their impact on the environment, traders are now offering alternatives such as biodegradable cornstarch bags in place of regular plastic.

The success of the initial campaign is being gradually rolled out through the remainder of the Market precincts.  This will significantly reduce the number of single-use plastic bags generated at the Market.

There are a number of options for acquiring a bag should you forget your bags or unexpectedly visit the Market:

  • Queen Victoria Market Management Office located at 513 Elizabeth Street sells non-woven polypropylene ‘green bags’ for $1.00.

Traders have at least one of the following available from their shops/stalls either for free or for a small charge:

  • ‘Green Bags’ designed for multiple use;
  • Biodegradable bags with handles certified to the Australian Standards
  • Paper Bags; and
  • Insulated Bags.

Remember to bring your own re-usable bags when shopping at the Market.

Thank you for saying NO to plastic bags and supporting the traders!

Recycling Program

Most of the Market waste is produced from the processing of food or from food packaging.

The Market has an extensive recycling program that includes recycling the following wastes:

  • Fat and bone, which is used in blood and bone fertiliser.
  • Fish offal, which is collected and processed for stockfeed and fertiliser.
  • Fats from grease traps and cooking oils from deep fryers, which can be processed into stockfeed or converted to biodiesel.
  • Paper and cardboard
  • Plastic packaging
  • Plastic and glass bottles and aluminium cans
  • Timber / Steel

Waste Wise – Silver Certification

The Market has achieved silver certification for Sustainability Victoria’s voluntary Waste Wise Program.  As part of this program, the Market has developed and implemented an action plan to minimise waste and maximise efficient use of valuable resources.

Solar Energy

In April 2003, the Market introduced its solar panel project – 1,328 solar panels covering one third of the Market roof. At the time, the project was the largest urban grid-connected solar photovoltaic installation in the southern hemisphere. The system has the capacity of generate 252,000 kilowatt hours of electricity each year for the Market – enough to power around 46 average homes a year. The decision to switch to solar power offers the distinct benefits of a dramatic reduction in the volume of greenhouse gases being generated in Melbourne’s inner-city precinct. To help Market visitors understand more about the project, a permanent, real-time display is on site to show updated information.

Water Harvesting

Unfortunately the operation of the Market means that large amounts of water need to be used to clean the Market to ensure public health.   The Rainwater Harvesting Project is designed to capture water from the roof of the Market that is then treated and recycled to provide an alternative water source for flushing the public toilets in Queen Street. This water would normally flow as untreated storm-water into Port Phillip Bay. It’s expected that this project will to reduce the Market’s potable water consumption by around 25%; saving approximately 6 Olympic swimming pools of water each year.

Storm Water Quality

Ground water run off is not captured for storage and is allowed to enter the normal storm water system.  The Market’s storm water drains are designed to ensure that storm water entering the drainage system is of a reasonable quality.  Filter baskets and specially designed grates filter out any solids, such as plastic and large vegetable matter.  Diversion pits prevent the initial run off water that might be contaminated by organic material from entering the storm water system by diverting it to sewer.  Only once the flow rate reaches a certain level is it diverted back to the storm water system.

Litter Prevention Project

Working with Sustainability Victoria and Melbourne Water, the Market’s Litter Prevention Project (2008) was a great success in reducing litter loads originating from the Market by 25% through education, infrastructure and enforcement.


The Market is a member of ECO-Buy.  ECO-Buy offers support to organisations to ‘green’ their purchasing, providing a wide range of services and resources, from policy and strategy development and implementation to practical tools and advice.

Fair Trade

The Market has been accepted as a member of the Fair Trade Association; having met their criteria of serving fair trade tea and coffee in our staff rooms.  Fair Trade Association seeks greater equity in international trade for producers and workers in third world countries. They advocate paying a fair price to producers for goods and ensure better wages and conditions for workers.

Worm Farms

Sponsored by Citywide, the 5 worm farms are located alongside the organics section in I Shed. The farms can receive 2kgs of fresh food waste each day which is converted into nutrient-filled fertiliser by the worms which is used on the collection of potted trees and plants around the market. Worm farms are one of the best ways to provide rich fertiliser that is sustainable, cheap, low maintenance and environmentally friendly.

The worms enjoy fruit and vegetable scraps, tea leaves and coffee grounds, egg shells and shredded, moist cardboard and paper, but not citrus fruits or meat and dairy – Lucky for them there is no shortage of scraps around the market for them to feast on! Coffee grinds are proudly supplied by Market Lane Coffee & Chai leaves from Original Chai Stall.

Visible to all who wander through the market, the worm farms also aim to promote environmental sustainability to the wider public. Cheap, odourless and requiring very little maintenance, worm farms are an easy and useful addition to any home. Even the smallest homes can benefit from reducing the amount of waste that goes to landfill by turning a percentage of their food waste into fertiliser that can further help the surrounding environment.

Sustainability and Compliance Manager

The Market has appointed a full-time Sustainability and Compliance Manager to work on projects to further improve the Market’s sustainability performance.

Green Team

All suitability initiatives are supported by the Queen Victoria Market Green Team.

If you have any questions on the Market’s sustainability projects, please contact our Sustainability and Compliance Manager, Kelly Green, on 03 9320 5822.