Karli Verghese

Supervisor Meeting Times: Tuesdays, 13:00 – 14:30, in B44.1.4 (15 Lygon Street, a couple of doors down from B45)

I am a Principal Research Fellow in the Industrial Design program of the School of Design, RMIT University, Melbourne. My research activities have involved working with industry and government on areas such as packaging, food waste, resource efficiency, waste management, eco-design, life cycle assessment, decision support tools and policy support. I am currently focussing my research around  the role of packaging, packaging sustainability, and food loss/waste across supply chains. 

My current Masters and PhD students are looking at Artificial intelligence in the food system; Save Food Packaging design; Consumer perceptions of packaging; Food loss and waste decision support tools within organisations; and Food safety and quality in fresh produce chains in Vietnam. 

I am also the Reduce Program Leader in the Fight Food Waste Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) which is a ten year national research centre focused upon reducing, transforming and engaging industry, government and consumers on food loss and waste. 

Current Research Activities

The following projects are funded through the Fight Food Waste CRC and respective industry partners:

  • DIRECT Commercialisation in partnership with Empauer, the development of a business-ready, digital, cloud-based food waste tool that can assist industry to reduce food loss and waste.
  • Save Food Packaging Design Criteria and Framework in partnership with the Australian Institute of Packaging and the Save Food Packaging Consortium, utilising methods such as online surveys, interviews and pilot testing to co-design along with industry Save Food Packaging Design criteria for implementation into new product packaging design processes.
  • Consumer perceptions of the role of packaging in minimising food waste  in partnership with Sustainability Victoria and Woolworths, is using a range of ethnographic methods such as journey mapping, online surveys, focus groups and industry think tanks to explore consumer perceptions of packaging and investigate opportunities for packaging to reduce food waste in the household.
  • The opportunities for Australia’s packaging and processing machinery sector to tackle food waste in partnership with the Australian Packaging and Processing Machinery Association, the project looks to understanding how this sector can promote its technologies and services to the food industry to realise new opportunities to reduce and/or transform food waste. 

Honours Interests

I am looking to supervise Honours students who are interested in projects in the food loss and waste field. I have listed some possible topics below, though I am also open to hear of your own specific topics in this field.

  • Redesign the refrigerator to reduce food waste. What are the drivers and actions that cause food to go to waste in the fridge at home? What ways have been explored to redesign the fridge so that food does not go to waste? How can we redesign the refrigerator to reduce food waste? 
  • #TooGoodToThrow – Foodie Bag. In November 2019, the Fight Food Waste CRC launched two prototypes of #TooGoodToThrow – Foodie Bag (the doggie bag) to replace single use takeaway containers. Building upon the initial research by the CRC, this project will utilise methods such as online surveys, interviews and focus groups through to product service design to compile a comprehensive picture of what the next prototype of the Foodie Bag could be. You will explore material options, container design and functionality, waste management options and user perceptions. Your final outcome will be a detailed design prototype. The successful student will be required to deliver a report on the user perceptions and also an initial prototype on behalf of the FFW CRC at a national CRC Association Showcase held at Australian Parliament House in Canberra between 25-27 May (funding is available for the student’s travel and accommodation as well as some operational).
  • Modular-mobile kitchens, for food rescue and relief, in remote locations. According to Foodbank’s Hunger Report 2019, more than 1 in 5 Australian’s (21%) have experienced food insecurity in the last 12 months. And at least once a week, 3 in 10 food insecure Australians (30%) go a whole day without eating. Remote and rural areas in Australia also experience food insecurity including access to fresh food. Working with FIAL (Food Innovation Australia Limited) this project will explore the challenges and opportunities to design professional kitchens that are modular and mobile, that can be taken into remote and rural towns. The kitchen, mobile or modular design, needs to be ‘off grid’ capable – i.e. capable of generating its own energy, heat/chill load and come with its own water supply and wastewater capabilities. You will need to consider the ease of use of the kitchens as well, as in most cases they will be operated by volunteers or the local communities themselves – and not professional chefs/caterers! You will explore material options, design and functionality of the kitchen; engage with stakeholders to understand their needs and current challenges. Your final outcome will be a detailed design prototype.