Strong results for Perth’s first FOGO trial

The trial of a Perth metro first, three-bin Food Organics Garden Organics (FOGO) system, has yielded higher than anticipated diversion from landfill.

The Southern Metropolitan Regional Council (SMRC) alongside three of its member councils – the Cities of Fremantle, Melville and Town of East Fremantle has been working towards the implementation of a three-bin FOGO system.

Commencing in October 2017, the new bin system was rolled out to approximately 7000 households across five areas in the City of Melville.

As part of the rollout, residents received a brand new 240-litre lime-green topped bin for FOGO material, along with a kitchen caddy to help them separate food waste in the kitchen. The kitchen caddy contained educational materials for the residents, along with a year’s supply of compostable liners to line the caddy with.

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Residents also received a brand new smaller red-topped 140-litre bin for general waste items that can’t be composted or recycled. The red bin is collected fortnightly. Residents kept their existing recycling bins with collections changing from weekly to fortnightly. For households who required more room to recycle, larger 360-litre bins were made available free of charge. The old general waste bins were removed and sent for recycling into new bins.

In the first six months of the project, 66.5 per cent of all household waste generated from the trial areas was recovered as compost or recycled into new products, above the state government target of 65 per cent of all household waste diverted from landfill by 2020.

In April, a resident survey was undertaken by independent research company Catalyse. All residents participating in the trial were asked for feedback on their experiences with 30 per cent of residents responding and having their say on the new system.

The findings showed strong support towards the new system with:

  • 79 per cent of respondents wanting the 3-bin FOGO system to continue.
  • 94 per cent of respondents rating weekly FOGO collections positively.
  • 87 per cent of respondents rating fortnightly recycling collections positively.
  • 69 per cent of respondents rating fortnightly general waste collections positively.
  • 80 per cent of respondents satisfied that they received the right amount of information about the new system.

Many residents highlighted the need to reduce landfill, create compost and increase recycling as their key reasons for wanting to keep the system moving forward. One resident said, “It makes sense to produce compost ‘en masse’ if individual households are not providing their own. We need more good soil, not landfill”.

Residents were also asked to make suggestions as to how the system could be improved, and between 10-22 per cent of respondents suggested improvements could be made by investigating the size and collection frequency of the red and yellow bins, odour management and sourcing more robust compostable caddy liners.

In a statement, council said many of these issues highlighted by residents are being addressed on an ongoing basis rather than a one-size-fits-all approach. To date, more than 17 per cent of residents have already opted for a larger 360-litre recycling bin and approximately half of the 4 per cent of households who requested additional capacity have been provided with more room following a needs assessment. Alternative compostable bags have been sourced with many residents now reporting improvements in the strength and durability of the bags.

City of Melville Mayor Russell Aubrey said that with mounting global pressures to better manage waste services our surveyed community has expressed a desire to move to an improved, more sustainable waste management model.

“The results show the FOGO three-bin trial by and large has been a fantastic success for everyone involved, noting there are some areas for improvement,” he said.

There is also strong support from those not in the trial areas, with 74 per cent of all residents who took part in a survey across all five SMRC member councils expressing a desire for a third bin for FOGO waste.

Further analysis and reporting will continue over the coming months to help formulate the decision-making process for participating councils.