Throwing out your kitchen scraps in the green bin now used for just garden waste is coming to the ACT but not until 2023 at the earliest, with money in the Budget for planning along with a new waste disposal levy.
The ACT Greens have welcomed Labor’s support for their motion in the Legislative Assembly on Wednesday for food waste to be included in the green bins service so it can be composted instead of going to landfill but are disappointed it has put it on hold for so long.
Greens MLA Caroline Le Couteur, who launched a pre-Budget campaign last month, said the Government’s acceptance of the need to extend the service to the 40,000 tonnes of food waste going to landfill a year was a step in the right direction but it should happen sooner rather than later, even if only as a pilot.
“The way to do this would be to start in a small part of Canberra, work out what works and what doesn’t then roll it out to all of us,” she said.
“Nonetheless I am pleased that even if it is going to take a few years at long last it seems like it will happen.”
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City Services Minister Chris Steel said collecting food waste was not as simple as garden waste, and detailed planning was required to get the service right.
“We need to work out where and how to process the food waste in Canberra and educate the community to reduce contamination, before we start collections,” he said.
Mr Steel said there was money in the Budget to plan for a Food Organics Garden Organics (FOGO) service to be delivered in 2023 in line with the recommendations in the ACT Waste Feasibility Study released in May 2018.
This would build on the garden waste collection service which had been rolled out to every suburb ahead of schedule and under budget.
The Budget papers say the Government will spend about $12 million over four years upgrading the Hume Materials Recovery Centre and planning for future waste infrastructure needs and a FOGO service. It will also introduce a waste disposal levy that is expected to raise more than $18 million over four years.
Ms Le Couteur said the Greens were surprised and disappointed that a composting solution for food waste was not a higher priority for the Government particularly with NSW councils already doing it and the commitment to zero greenhouse gas emissions in the ACT by 2045.
“An earlier roll out could have seen tens of thousands of tonnes of extra waste diverted from landfill. Clearly, this is something that the Canberra community would like to see happen sooner than later,” she said.
Ms Le Couteur said the Greens would keep pushing for the Government to do more.
“The ACT Greens have called for specific actions on food waste in Parliamentary Agreements as far back as 2008. With still more to do, the Greens are keeping up the fight for more compost and less landfill in the ACT,” she said.
The Greens say more than a third (37 per cent) of ACT residential rubbish bin contents are food waste, which ends up in landfill and a composting site and a FOGO collection service in the ACT could see an estimated 40,000 tonnes of waste diverted from landfill each year, where it generates methane, a greenhouse gas.
They say almost half of local councils in Victoria have already implemented a FOGO collection service and up to 80 per cent of people living in apartments would like better options for food waste.
Ms Le Couteur has also called for businesses to be compelled to send their food waste for composting.