Journal article

Food, water, energy, waste: an examination of socio-technical issues for urban prosumers – Part 1 (Context)

Food consumption Waste management Energy consumption Water conservation Land use Precinct indicators Waste minimization Gold Coast

The human relationship with food is an under-acknowledged contributor towards climate change and environmental degradation. However, citizens’ choices and actions regarding food consumption and production in urban settings are shaped by the economic, cultural and infrastructure systems in which they live.

The purpose of this paper is to examine, from the perspective of prosumers, the socio-technical factors that affect urban food production and associated energy, water and waste services. A residential development on the urban fringe of Australia’s subtropical Gold Coast was used as a case study. A mixed methods approach was utilised to gather quantitative and qualitative data through estate maps, development planning documents, visual observations, interviews and surveys. Data was analysed around the themes of food production, consumption and development infrastructure (physical and social). The estate’s food production demonstrated high biodiversity and highlighted three common challenges: biological, knowledge and water/climate. Food consumption incorporated self-consumption, sharing/trading and a range of other typical and atypical sources found in cities. An integrated approach to land-use, energy, water and waste was instrumental in enabling food production, highlighting issues that affect the ability of urban prosumers to incorporate sustainability into their food practices.

The paper raises the possibility of a ‘sharing-economy’ food production typology for urban areas and proposes an initial performance indicator framework (people, planet, prosperity, governance and propagation) to understand, develop and manage urban prosumers in the context of integrated energy, water, waste and food services.

Publication Details


Proceedings of the 2nd International Conference on Sustainable Energy and Resource Use in Food Chains including Workshop on Energy Recovery Conversion and Management
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