Food organics pilot and fortnightly bin collection kicks off in Belconnen

Max O'Driscoll 23 November 2021 16
composting truck

Rubbish collection will become fortnightly under the trial. Photo: ACT Government.

The long-awaited food organics and garden organics (FOGO) bin collection pilot has begun, with Belconnen, Bruce, Cook and Macquarie the first four suburbs to receive the service.

As part of the pilot, participating households are asked to put food scraps in their kitchen caddy which is then emptied into the FOGO bin along with the garden waste.

The pilot will determine contamination levels and get a better gauge on what percentage of Canberrans’ rubbish is made up of compostable items. Multiple apartment complexes will also be a part of the pilot.

Having the use of the new green bin does, however, mean that the rubbish service in the four suburbs will move from weekly to fortnightly collection. The FOGO bin will be collected weekly as part of the pilot.


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Projects and Partnerships Coordinator at Canberra Environment Centre Zoe Anderson welcomed the FOGO service.

“Our stance at the environment centre is that we want sustainability to be easy for everyone and that separating organic waste out of our waste stream preventing it from going to landfill is a really effective way of assisting everybody in being sustainable,” said Ms Anderson.

FOGO kitchen caddies will be provided as part of the pilot. Photo: ACT Government.

She added that it provided a “great opportunity” for people living in apartments who otherwise would be unable to compost.

She wanted to stress the urgency of avoiding contamination of your organics, particularly from toxic chemicals.

“It is really important not to contaminate the FOGO bins and that’s because the products that we’re making from the food and garden waste is going to be a landscaping product. It’s going to be compost and we will hopefully be able to use it on landscapes around Canberra,” said Ms Anderson.

The items that should go in the FOGO bin are:

  • Leftovers and cooked food
  • Yogurt, cheese and eggs
  • Fruit and vegetable scraps
  • Meat/fish scraps and bones
  • Bread, grains and cereals
  • Certified compostable liners
  • Grass clippings
  • Pruning, cuttings, trimmings
  • Twigs and sticks
  • Palm fronds
  • Weeds.

Items that shouldn’t go in the FOGO bin are:

  • Plastic bags
  • Teabags
  • Animal droppings
  • Cat litter
  • Hair
  • Paper
  • Tissues and paper towel
  • Oyster shells
  • Plastic products
  • Sanitary products
  • Treated timber
  • Metals
  • Glass
  • Textiles and old clothes.

Minister for Transport and City Services Chris Steel said that with 93 per cent of surveyed Canberrans indicating support for the FOGO collection, the pilot will help determine how to roll out the service to all of Canberra.

“FOGO will help Canberrans to take everyday action on climate change by turning food and garden waste into nutrient-rich compost, thereby reducing methane gas being generated from our landfill. Once implemented city-wide, this has the potential to reduce waste emissions by up to 30 per cent,” Mr Steel said.

All households in the pilot should have received educational material, an updated collection calendar, a kitchen caddy, compostable bin liners and a FOGO bin.

For further information, visit City Services.


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16 Responses to Food organics pilot and fortnightly bin collection kicks off in Belconnen
Capital Retro Capital Retro 10:07 am 24 Nov 21

And the smell of it being dumped at the MLRMC is spreading across Tuggeranong where Zoe Anderson obviously doesn’t live.

    jam jam 11:47 am 24 Nov 21

    Where it was already being dumped anyway?

    Capital Retro Capital Retro 9:47 pm 24 Nov 21

    At the landfill section of the MLRMC which means it was buried.

    Now it is being churned above ground with green waste to make compost.

    “It is really important not to contaminate the FOGO bins and that’s because the products that we’re making from the food and garden waste is going to be a landscaping product. It’s going to be compost and we will hopefully be able to use it on landscapes around Canberra,” said Ms Anderson.

    waxy boy waxy boy 11:01 am 25 Nov 21

    I live in Tuggers and haven’t noticed – not sure how you could, when its only a handful of suburbs worth in a pilot program. Its worth noting that methane is the stuff that genuinely stinks, rotten egg style. You’ll note per the article that composting largely eliminates methane emissions from decomposing organic matter. My compost at home has that damp, earthy smell you get after rain,.

    switch switch 12:36 pm 25 Nov 21

    Methane is odourless…

    Capital Retro Capital Retro 5:45 pm 25 Nov 21

    From a study at Washington State University:
    Successful development of organics recycling has had challenges, particularly when
    food scraps are diverted to composting facilities designed primarily to process green waste. U.S. cities including Seattle, Portland, Philadelphia, San Francisco, and Waukegan (IL) have grappled with odor and air emission concerns due to increased flows of highly putrescible food scraps to composting facilities (Le, 2013; Driessen, 2013; Allen, 2013; Howard, 2013; Moran, 2013).
    Because of the time lag between residential disposal, collection and transport, food scraps have often begun rotting prior to arrival at the compost facility. When rotting food scraps are combined with increasing fresh green waste flows in late spring through early summer the potential for odour generation dramatically increases.
    In addition to these obvious odour problems, recent studies from Swedish researchers (Sundberg et al., 2004), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA, 2008), and the U.S. Compost Council (Christiansen, 2009) demonstrate that inclusion of partially decomposed food scraps can lead to acidification and inhibition of standard composting, resulting in poor compost process control and inferior product stabilization. Operation under such conditions leads to the increased release of volatile organic compounds (VOC’s), methane, and ammonia – all potential sources of potent odours and other emissions harmful to the environment and human health. These studies further indicate that standard compost management strategies (increasing temperature and airflow) designed to reduce odor problems under normal composting conditions may, in fact, aggravate the odor problems.

    But the ACT Government knows best, don’t they.

    A Nonny Mouse A Nonny Mouse 10:48 pm 25 Nov 21

    Perhaps the ACT govt. is looking at references more recent than a decade old. Keeping things aerobic is the whole point of this exercise to avoid methane emissions. Aerobic conditions should reduce other problems. If the material is being dumped in any case, it won’t make it worse.

    Capital Retro Capital Retro 7:39 am 26 Nov 21

    Perhaps they are but if that’s the case, why don’t they (or you) tell us the details. The ideal situation is for large scale composting to be done in an enclosed shed and that isn’t the case at MLRMC.

    The point is the stuff previously going to land fill (food scraps and meat) is already rotting when it gets mixed with the green waste and a different odour is being emitted from day one of the composting process.

Gay McGuire Gay McGuire 7:27 pm 24 Nov 21

I’m elderly live in an over 55s Retirement Village. I have to take my household to a waste area with bins & hopper. I’m then expected to sort it all out collapse boxes it really is too much. I have purchased half size wheelie bin from Bunnings & created my own system. It was a lot easier having my own household bins & pushing out to the kerb.

Now you want to make it more complicated when most rubbish ends up in landfill anyway.

    Chris Ellis Chris Ellis 9:06 am 26 Nov 21

    Gay McGuire your organic waste will be used to make compost. If it decomposes in landfill it creates green house gases.

May Mac May Mac 6:42 pm 25 Nov 21

No teabags?

    Peter Campbell Peter Campbell 10:42 pm 25 Nov 21

    Some of the teabags we have put in our compost bin did not decompose. I think they have some sort of synthetic fabric bag rather than paper.

    Chris Ellis Chris Ellis 9:05 am 26 Nov 21

    Peter Campbell you are right teabags contain plastic.

Onelia Herriot Onelia Herriot 10:38 pm 26 Nov 21

Can all townhouses and houses please qualify for it, not just some?!

Scott Harvey Scott Harvey 1:05 pm 27 Nov 21

Most people don't buy organically grown fruit and veg therefore the scraps aren't organic either.

You cannot add non organic material to living organic soil and claim it's still organic.

Helen Roberts Helen Roberts 1:27 pm 27 Nov 21

I welcome FOGO in Cook. We are more able to separate food scraps. For example I have found that the coffee capsules we used to put in the bin intact contain a lot of ground coffee. Once a week I scoop the coffee out with a teaspoon into the kitchen caddy. The empty capsules all fit inside each other and take up very little space in a bin.

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