More than 5000 Belconnen households will be among the first in Canberra to trial a food recycling scheme if Labor is re-elected at the upcoming ACT election.
The scheme would eventually be rolled out to all Canberra suburbs and create up to 200 new jobs for collection, construction and ongoing management of the service that would see a $30 million in-vessel composting facility built.
Existing providers would be contracted to compost the green waste service that would be increased from fortnightly to weekly collections.
Minister for City Services Chris Steel said Belconnen provided the ideal location for the trial as many residents live in multi-dwelling apartments where there is little garden waste but far greater food waste.
“This is an opportunity to reduce the 37 per cent of food waste that goes into our garbage bins and actually have it composted into valuable products that can be used in agriculture and in other applications,” Mr Steel said.
“We know that when food waste goes into landfill in the anaerobic conditions, it turns into methane which contributes to climate change so this will help to reduce emissions by 30 per cent.”
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He said contamination of food waste was also an issue that would have to be overcome and pointed to the ACT Government’s love food hate waste campaign.
“We’ve seen in other jurisdictions where they’ve rolled out food waste recycling that contamination rates have been very high and that’s why education will be very important,” Mr Steel said.
It is estimated that Australian households waste up to $3,800 every year by throwing away food that could have been eaten.
The trial scheme in Belconnen would allow residents to opt-in if interested.
Member for Ginninderra Tara Cheyne also said the scheme would allow for residents to compost meat scraps and bones.
“When the scheme is properly rolled out in the suburbs in 2023, people will be looking forward to the green waste bin collection as we move from fortnightly to weekly. There’s a lot of people who are already composting but can’t compost meat and bones, so this initiative will enable that to occur as well,” Ms Cheyne said.
The service was scheduled to commence in 2024, but Labor is pledging to bring the scheme forward to July 2021.
Under the proposed scheme, Canberrans will be able to place food waste in their existing green bins along with other garden waste.
The announcement came as the Commission for the Human Future released its new policy report The Need for Strategic Food Policy in Australia, which calls for the Australian Government to consider how it can more strategically govern and reform food policy.
It says the negative impacts of our food system cost the Australian economy at least $87 billion a year, including around $21 billion from food waste and $4 billion from lost productivity due to land degradation.
The Australian Commission for the Human Future is a body of researchers and concerned citizens dedicated to finding solutions to the global threats confronting the world.
Commission deputy chair Paul Barratt said the Federal Government does not have a coordinated approach with much of Australia’s food policy sitting with states and territories.
“Food is the most interconnected policy issue any government faces. It touches on just about every major policy portfolio, but no one in government owns it. Meanwhile, Australia and its people continue to suffer poor health, environmental and economic results,” Mr Barratt said.
The report makes seven recommendations for reforming Australia’s food system covering governance, urban food production, soil health, water management, industry policy, nutrition, and research and education.