FOGO trial in ACT

The ACT Government will pilot Food Organics and Garden Organics (FOGO) collection services for selected Belconnen suburbs later this year to help reduce waste going to landfill and turn household scraps into compost.

Belconnen, Bruce, Cook and Macquarie were selected as pilot suburbs because of their mix of single residential dwellings and multi-unit properties.

ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr said the FOGO pilot would allow Canberrans to make better choices to stop waste going to landfill and take everyday action on climate change.

“About a third of our residential garbage bin contents are food waste which currently goes to landfill and contributes to our emissions,” Barr said.

“Food waste breaks down in the airless conditions in our landfill and emits methane, an extremely powerful greenhouse gas. The ACT has a target to halve greenhouse gas emissions by 2025 and achieve net zero emissions by 2045 so reducing these emissions from our waste stream is an important part of the government’s action on climate change.”

Minister for Transport and City Services Chris Steel said the pilot will look at contamination rates and how FOGO collection can be implemented successfully across a mix of residential types.

As part of the pilot, green-lidded bins will change from garden waste only to FOGO bins. All participating households will be given a kitchen caddy with compostable liners to collect their food scraps. The food scraps in the compostable bags can then be emptied into the FOGO bin along with garden waste.

Waste collection for single-residential households in the pilot suburbs will change, with green FOGO bins collected weekly instead of fortnightly, and garbage bins collected fortnightly instead of weekly.

“The approach for the pilot will be similar to other local councils that have already adopted FOGO and we will be educating Belconnen residents in the pilot area on how to make this change,” Steel said.

The FOGO pilot is intended to continue through to when the service is rolled out to all Canberra households in 2023. Recent survey results show that 92 per cent of Canberrans support a fully-fledged FOGO collection service in the ACT.

The trial has been praised by the ACT Greens.

“We could not be happier that the ACT Government is finally investing in keeping food waste out of landfill. This has been ACT Greens policy for well over a decade and I’m delighted we’re moving ahead with it,” said Jo Clay MLA, ACT Greens spokesperson on Circular Economy and representative of Ginninderra, where the FOGO trial will begin.

“Since moving from the recycling industry myself to become an MLA, I’ve been working with local organic processors and the minister to ensure we get a good system in place. With the low contamination rates we’ve seen in Canberra’s garden waste bins, I’m confident our community will be able to do this well too.”

The ACT Greens have been calling for specific actions on food waste in Parliamentary Agreements as far back as 2008. In 2012, then-waste spokesperson Caroline Le Couter said: “Household organic waste is the fundamental challenge for waste management in the ACT”.

“For too long, food waste in our city has been left rotting in landfill, when it could better be turned into organic material to help us grow food, live more sustainably, and cut the Territory’s greenhouse gas emissions,” Clay said.

“More than a third of waste in Canberra’s household bins is made up of discarded food. Reducing food waste in the first place, then processing what’s left to enrich our soils will keep over 40,000 tonnes of waste out of landfill.

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