When Finn Boyle learnt about the waste inherent in our food systems, he changed his own behaviour – but soon realised he wanted to make a bigger impact. As a result of his studies at Otago Polytechnic, he is now influencing the future of organic waste collection.

“As soon as I heard about the Bachelor of Leadership for Change I knew it was for me,” Finn says.

“Some of the most exciting and inspiring thinkers and community organisers in Aotearoa are studying and facilitating the degree – challenging old ways of thinking and devising new ways of doing. It’s an awesome community of learning, and I wanted in!”

Finn wanted to change how we dispose of organic waste such as food, garden waste, paper hand towels and certain food packaging.

“In order to see what was happening, I went on a month-long trip around the country looking at different sites at different scales that were dealing with organic waste.”

As a result of his research, Finn realised that the solution to improving organic waste processing is two-fold.

“We need to build better infrastructure. And we need to shift the culture and engage people with our systems. Changing behaviour is what’s difficult!”

Finn decided to apply what he had learnt to the polytechnic – but first, he had some more learning to do.

“I figured out what the gaps were in my capabilities, skills and networks – the barriers to me reaching my goal. For example, I had no idea how to work within a big institution. I’ve been able to use Otago Polytechnic as that learning sandbox, and the context here is applicable to other organisations.

“I’ve also learnt skills like budgeting. I went to experts and got advice, and that’s paid off with a grant from the Dunedin City Council.”

Next, Finn analysed the organic waste systems at Otago Polytechnic, and discovered that they were at their limit. With the help of other Otago Polytechnic students, he is now building a new composting facility that will allow for hands-on engagement. 

“We’ve got two teams of mechanical engineering students working on processing devices. And once we’re ready to implement the new system, we’ll ask the communication design students to help us tell the story. It gives learners an opportunity to be involved in a project that has a tangible impact they can be proud of.”

Finn may have finished the formal part of his study, but he is continuing on with his project – as a Resource Recovery employee at Otago Polytechnic. The composting facility will open next year, and Finn already has plans to scale it up to help improve organic waste processing across the region.

Finn is full of praise for the opportunities provided by Otago Polytechnic.

“The Bachelor of Leadership for change is incredible. I really, really loved it. I got so much from it.”  



Published on 12 Dec 2019

Orderdate: 12 Dec 2019
Expiry: 20 Dec 2022