FOGO trial supports Townsville businesses

green waste

Townsville’s Food Organics, Garden Organics (FOGO) kerbside collection trial is bringing environmental and economic benefits to Townsville.

The Queensland Government has provided $220,000 to Townsville City Council to conduct the trial, which involves adding either a third, FOGO or GO kerbside bin for about 1500 householders in the council area.

Meaghan Scanlon, Queensland Environment Minister said the Townsville trial is one of three FOGO trials under way being funded by the government. The other trials are in the Rockhampton and Lockyer Valley local government areas. Up to $770,000 in total funding  has been delivered for all three trials.

“Food organics and garden organics make up about half of the general waste bin that households place on the kerb each week,” Scanlon said. “This not only adds to the amount of waste going to landfill, but results in an enormous amount of otherwise valuable waste being … wasted.

“But not in Townsville, where we can see garden organic waste being turned into a soil-enhancing product that benefits the environment while supporting local businesses and the economy by providing additional resource streams.”

Scanlon visited Atlas Soil’s Batten Road facility in Cosgrove, where organic garden waste delivered by council’s FOGO collection vehicles is converted into ‘HumiSoil’, a proprietary product that reduces watering needs, reduces nutrient use, and increases food productivity in cities and agriculture.

Jenny Hill, Townsville Mayor said the 1500 households participating in the trial area had taken to their new lime-green-lidded bins well, with more than 45 tonnes of organic waste diverted from landfill so far.

“To understand what works best for our community, 1000 households in Idalia and Burdell are participating in a trial of collecting both food and garden organics, while 500 households in Vincent and Heatley are trialling garden organics only,” Hill said.

“At the end of the trial, we will use the data we gather about the collection types and frequencies to determine what our next step as a city is, and what infrastructure and method we will implement to reduce our waste to landfill.

“So far, the trial has been quite successful with 45 tonnes of organic waste diverted from our landfills, instead going to local businesses McCahill’s Landscaping Supplies and Atlas Soils for processing into organic material.”

Hill said education on how to efficiently use the FOGO and GO bins was a crucial component of the trial.

“An important part of this trial is the community education part which aims to teach participating residents about what can go in the bins and how beneficial reducing waste to landfill is for the environment,” she said.

“This trial is vital for council to explore the best and most effective methods to reach our aspiration of zero waste to landfill by 2030 and to meet the goals of the Queensland Government’s waste strategy.”

Jason Lange, Atlas Soil Co-Founder and Director said he was delighted to be involved in the GO trial.

“We are passionate in our desire to turn local waste into high value soil products and are passionate about soil health and a brighter environmental future,” Lange said.

“With the FOGO trial delivering a resource stream of organic garden waste, we can use our understanding of soil structure, soil chemistry and soil biology to make a product that protects and strengthens soil properties in the wider environment from agricultural uses to uses in parks and gardens.”

Scanlon said that adding a green-top FOGO bin to kerbside collections meant households could play a vital part in diverting waste from landfill and tackling greenhouse gas emissions.

“A successful FOGO system could divert up to 83 per cent of organic material currently disposed of in general waste bins away from landfill, transforming it into rich soil products to be used in a variety of ways – including on council gardens.

“The three FOGO trials will collect information that will be vital to us understanding if a FOGO or GO service would be suitable for more Queensland local government areas, and help us understand how a full-scale rollout may be achieved.

“FOGO kerbside collections give us a marvellous opportunity to progress towards our 2050 waste reduction targets set in the Queensland Government’s Waste Management and Resource Recovery Strategy.

“This includes the targets of a 25 per cent reduction in household waste and a target of 90 per cent of household waste being recovered and not going to landfill,” Ms Scanlon said.

The FOGO trials are planned to end in late 2022.

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