All go for FOGO in Townsville

FOGO service WA

More than 270 tonnes, or the equivalent of 5400 full kerbside wheelie bins, of organic materials has been diverted from Townsville landfills since the start of a Food Organics, Garden Organics (FOGO) Kerbside Collection Trial in October 2021.

Townsville City Council added either a third FOGO or GO kerbside bin for 1500 households in Idalia, Burdell, Vincent and Heatley as part of the trial.

Mark Molachino, Acting Mayor says the results have been positive.

“The trial has been split into two parts, with 1000 households in Idalia and Burdell using their new lime-green lidded bins for food and garden waste, meanwhile, 500 households in Vincent and Heatley have been using their extra bin for garden waste only,” Mark says.

“We have seen industry-best standards for household participation rates of up to 90 per cent in some areas. Our team has also recorded an average contamination rate of below two per cent, which tells us most households are doing the right thing and are only putting food or garden waste in the kerbside bins. Trial participants will be surveyed so we can gather further information about how the trial is going and receive any feedback they have.”

Mark says the information gathered will be used to evaluate whether the FOGO in Townsville program will roll out citywide, what it might look like and what further infrastructure might be needed. The Queensland Government provided $242,000 to council to conduct the FOGO Kerbside Collection Trial.

Maurie Soars, Community Health, Safety and Environmental Sustainability Committee chairperson says the trial is about exploring initiatives to reduce the amount of potential value add materials and resources going to landfills.

“Waste management is a considerable expense for ratepayers,” Maurie says. “For example, construction has started on two new landfill cells at the Stuart waste facility at the cost of more than $10 million. Our current cell, constructed in 2020, is expected to reach capacity within the next 12 months.

“Initiatives like the FOGO Kerbside Collection Trial are about looking for sustainable ways to divert materials from going to landfills to be reused or repurposed. One of those initiatives has been diverting the garden organic material to be processed by local business Atlas Soils to turn into a soil conditioner which council has already used in parks and gardens across Townsville.

“Council wants to achieve a goal of zero waste to landfill by 2030, and resource recovery initiatives like this are vital to helping determine the best and most effective method to achieving that.”

Maurie says the council is proud of, and delighted by, the community’s effort during the FOGO kerbside collection trial.

“The trial participants have achieved such positive results through their willingness to engage with council about the types of waste that could be placed in the new bins for kerbside collection and by willingly taking the time to separate their waste streams at home.

“Our team held a community information session and barbecue in each of the trial areas and walked the streets involved in the trial ahead of the FOGO collection truck to allow residents to ask any last-minute questions they may have.

“Council has also conducted regular bin tagging exercises involving our team carrying out a quick visual inspection of each of the FOGO/GO bins and providing guidance to participants on any contamination in their bins.”

Maurie says the council has also created easy-to-access education and promotional material, including an A-Z guide, How to Guide, FAQ sheets, fridge magnets, video resources, letterbox drops, and targeted social media ads to help educate Townsville locals about how to reduce, reuse and recycle at home.

The council is waiting for results of a recent FOGO bin inspection audit to provide a detailed indication of mid-trial outcomes.

The FOGO Kerbside Collection Trial is planned to end in September. 

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