3 Australian Councils Championing Composting

3 Australian Councils Championing Composting

We’ve found three of the greenest councils across Australia! These metropolitan, rural and coastal councils are reinventing their waste collection services to facilitate sustainable, community-wide change. 

Compost Connect are helping to grow access to composting to prevent food waste and compostable packaging from entering landfill. 

So, as we grow our national composting network here in Australia, we want to celebrate the work that local councils are doing to implement Food Organics & Garden Organics (FOGO) collection services within their communities — whether they’re based in a bustling city, a rural farming area, or a coastal paradise!

Real-life examples of councils composting across Australia

City | Randwick City Council

Thanks to the successful rollout of its new FOGO collection service, Randwick City has reinforced its position as one of the greenest councils in Sydney! The stunning coastal area — located just six kilometres east of Sydney’s CBD — is the second-oldest local government area in New South Wales.

Randwick City Council implemented its FOGO waste collection service for all 156,000+ residents in March, 2021. To assist residents in their composting journey, Randwick City Council provided households with a lime green FOGO bin and an optional kitchen caddy with compostable liners to collect food scraps.

Randwick City Council’s FOGO program accepts food waste, garden waste, certified compostable packaging, tissues, paper towels, soiled pizza boxes – and even pet waste!

In just three months, Randwick City Council reported a 70% increase in the amount of organic waste collected in the FOGO bins and a 28% decline in waste collected in red-lid rubbish bins — from a monthly average of 2,374 tonnes, down to 1,715 tonnes. Residents that “FOGO like a pro” are encouraged to join Randwick City Council’s Friends of FOGO ambassador program to spread the word about composting.

Speaking of the findings detailed above, Former Randwick Mayor Danny Said expressed his gratitude to residents for this “tremendous effort”.

“I am so impressed by the ability of our residents to embrace a completely new way of handling their food waste and how successful their efforts have been,” stated Former Randwick Mayor Danny Said in a press release.

“What’s more, residents have understood what can and can’t go in the green lid FOGO bins and kept the contamination rate to just 1.5%. All that waste is now being composted and will be used to improve the soil quality of parks, sports fields and farmland”.

“I think this shows just how passionate and dedicated our people are to reducing their environmental impact so that we have something of value to hand on to our children,” he said.

Rural | Bega Valley Shire Council

Bega Valley Shire isn’t just famous for its cheese! The rural LGA, located in south-east NSW, has one of the most successful FOGO bin collection and composting programs in Australia.

Since launching in October 2018, the volume of food waste, garden waste and certified compostable packaging collected via the FOGO service has more than tripled. In the first year alone, residents of Bega Valley Shire diverted 5,000 tonnes of FOGO waste away from landfill — around five times more than initial targets.

Bega Valley’s FOGO bins are currently collected by Cleanaway and taken to the Merimbula Organics Processing Facility. But, as the FOGO collection service expands to local businesses, Bega Valley Shire’s councillors are looking to the private sector to boost processing capacity to more than 15,000 tonnes a year.

A growing number of businesses in Bega Valley are recognising the commercial, environmental and social benefits of becoming FOGO-Friendly. In fact, Merimbula McDonald’s became the first McDonald’s restaurant in NSW to adopt the FOGO collection scheme! Some of these #RecyclingLegends are partaking in a bi-weekly FOGO collection trial, which grants them the status as an ‘extra FOGO-Friendly business’.

To provide regular updates and helpful resources about the FOGO service, Bega Valley Shire Council created a dedicated App for iOS and Android devices, as well as a community Facebook Page for everything waste and recycling.

Bega Valley Shire Council’s Waste Project Officer and FOGO for Business Project Officer, Rechelle Fisher, says the Council is optimistic about the future of the FOGO program.

“As the FOGO program matures, so too does our communities’ understanding and acceptance of the new ‘norms’ around separating food and compostables. FOGO is now very much a part of the lives and a point of pride to many Bega Valley residents,” said Fisher to Compost Connect.

“The success of the program is evidenced by our low contamination rates and strong positive community feedback.  Our Waste the Facts Facebook page now has over 1,600 followers and continues to be a useful interface with our community, along with the council’s main Facebook page, which has 25,000 followers”.

Coastal | Shire of Augusta Margaret River

Lastly, let’s head to the south-west corner of Western Australia, to the Shire of Augusta Margaret River. This beautiful coastal region introduced its three-bin waste disposal system — along with the cleverly-named “Best We’ve Ever Bin” campaign — in mid-2019 to more than 16,000 residents.

The biggest change to the waste pickup service was the introduction of the lime green FOGO bin, where residents are encouraged to dispose of FOGO waste and compostable packaging, including BioPak’s certified compostable coffee cups and lids. The rollout of the “Best We’ve Ever Bin” campaign involved a broad range of resources to educate residents about the three-bin system, including a handy A-Z guide included in the Waste Services Guide.

In the first three months of the new bin system, AMR Shire residents managed to slash the amount of waste going to landfill in half, from roughly 471 tonnes down to 229 tonnes. In the Shire’s 2020/21 reporting period, residents diverted 2,795 tonnes of FOGO waste from landfill! The Shire’s FOGO waste is processed and transformed into nutrient-rich compost at Bunbury Harvey Regional Council’s Organics Processing Facility.

“Residents in the Shire of Augusta Margaret River are very aware of the environmental benefits of waste reduction, including composting,” says the Shire of Augusta Margaret River’s Director of Sustainable Development and Infrastructure, Nick Logan, to Compost Connect.

“As a popular holiday destination, a recent rise in the number of short stay accommodation providers requesting additional FOGO bin services is also encouraging,” he says.

For the Shire of Augusta Margaret River, the ultimate goal is to reduce the amount of waste going to landfill by up to 75 per cent. Aside from introducing the kerbside FOGO bin, the Council recently rolled out its “Be A GREAT Sort” waste sorting system in its Margaret River Shire Offices.

This additional waste sorting system allows residents to bring along miscellaneous waste products — like used coffee capsules, light globes, empty beauty product tubes, assorted e-waste items, and more — to be diverted to special recycling facilities. “By offering alternative waste streams, we aim to increase diversion from landfill and contamination of kerbside waste collection bins,” says Nick.

The Council also has a number of initiatives planned for 2022 to reduce waste in commercial settings. As well as an opt-in FOGO service for commercial businesses, the Council will also provide businesses with compostable stickers for packaging that can be placed in the FOGO bin.

“The Shire of Augusta Margaret River has had a commercial FOGO service for businesses since late 2020. Since providing presentations to café owners in 2021, we currently have 31 businesses committed to the collection of FOGO. Through further promotion, we aim to encourage additional businesses to participate in 2022,” says Nick.

Randwick City Council FOGO kitchen caddy

These three councils are transforming FOGO waste into nutrient-rich compost to benefit their communities. They’re proving that large-scale FOGO collection programs are commercially viable, environmentally-friendly, and embraced by residents and local businesses.

Does your local council offer a composting solution? If the answer is ‘no’ — make sure to contact your local representatives and enquire about these services. In the meantime, we encourage you to compost your food scraps at home and interact with your community of composters via the ShareWaste app.

Use the interactive Compost Club Members Map to see if your council is composting — plus, you can show your support for your local Compost Club Members by dropping in for a coffee or a bite to eat. By supporting Compost Club Members and venues that use certified compostable packaging instead of single-use plastics, you’re helping to create a sustainable, waste-free foodservice industry.

Please help Compost Connect in their mission to grow access to organic recycling and instigate widespread change. We can make a global impact — all by making changes at the local level!