Household food waste program fails to catch on among Sydney councils

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Australian Organics Recycling Association NSW chairman Charlie Emery said adoption in northern NSW would encourage more Sydney councils to adopt FOGO programs.

“Managing change is much easier to do in a regional context,” he said. “Once the Sydney councils have entered into long-term contracts, we will start to see more changes. The biggest challenge will be educating the community to switch from garden only to food and garden composting, and I think there is now an appetite for that.

Marika Nabung with her daughter Lily.Credit:Janie Barrett

In June, the NSW government set 2030 as the deadline for collecting garden food and organics from all households and certain businesses as part of its $ 365 million strategy on waste and sustainable materials and its action plan on plastics.

“We [are] is committed to halving the amount of organic waste going to landfill and achieving net zero emissions from organic waste to landfill by 2030, ”said Energy and Environment Minister Matt Kean. “By separating our food scraps from our general waste, we can minimize the contamination of our waste streams and maximize the opportunities for reuse, recycling and creating new circular supply chains. “

From March to May of this year, the people of Randwick collected over 3,400 tonnes of food and organic waste, a 70% increase from the garden organics collected during the same time last year. During the lockdown, Randwick saw a ‘manageable’ 8% increase in waste generation.

In the nearby town of Woollahra, which has accepted food and organics in green bins since 2008, total organic waste collection has declined slightly from last year’s lockdown, despite an increase in green waste collected during the month. latest.

Penrith City Council introduced a FOGO service in 2009 and was able to reduce its landfill by 45 percent, and Mayor Karen McKeown said residents quickly adapted to the program.

“With spring upon us, more and more people are gardening [and] increasing the use of their FOGO bin for weeds and garden pruning, ”she said.

Other councils such as Waverley took a different approach, implementing a recycling improvement program that more than halved recycling contamination rates in apartment buildings.

Treatment facilities are starting to adopt FOGO. Australian company SOILCO recently opened a new composting facility at Tweed Heads, designed to process up to 25,000 tonnes of FOGO per year.

“The Tweed Shire Council’s SOILCO project provides a local solution for the community with the ability to divert more food waste from landfills in the future,” said Mr. Emery, who is also director of SOILCO.

Mr Emery said the facility noticed a significant increase in household food waste processed during the lockdown, suggesting increased use of the program.

“The community is much more aware of its footprint and impact now,” he said. “It makes households aware of what they’re wasting – when you separate the food for the compost, you could go and buy less food next week. “

Other waste management services like Veolia Australia also view the continued growth of FOGO programs as critical to Australia’s environmental impact.

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“FOGO’s collection and treatment policy will reduce Australia’s dependence on landfill, reduce emissions that contribute to climate change and further protect biodiversity,” said Veolia CEO Richard Kirkman.

Recycling organics has grown into a multi-million dollar industry in New South Wales, employing 1,700 people and generating $ 748 million in sales.

“It’s a long-term solution,” Mr. Emery said, “When we look 10 to 15 years from now, we can start to put in renewable energy facilities. In the future, we will be able to generate energy from waste and create renewable energy. ”

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