Features, Waste Management In Action

Preparing the next generation

Preparing the next generation

Education is key to increasing recycling rates of organic waste, says Biomix Chief Executive Mike Robertson.

The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals note that children are critical agents of change. While the goals are geared toward climate change on a global scale, Biomix Composting believes the message can translate to a local level.

Each year, Australians throw away 7.3 million tonnes of food, about 300 kilograms per person. Add in garden organics, such as grass clippings and garden waste, and the average rubbish bin contains about 50 per cent organic waste that ends up in landfill, according to Clean Up Australia.

Australia is working toward a Federal Government commitment to provide FOGO (Food Organics Garden Organics) services to all households by the end of 2023 in a bid to reduce the amount of food waste going to landfill. But as councils roll out FOGO services, confusion and a lack of education about what can be recycled are hampering efforts.

Biomix is encouraging a “cradle to grave” approach to recycling and hopes children will be role models for good behaviour.

“Education of children in recycling is imperative,” says Mike Robertson, Biomix Chief Executive.

“They are quick to pick out adults who are putting the wrong thing in a bin.

“Climate Change and looking after our environment, I believe, is an area that children are more mindful of. They’re more aware of what we can do at a household level to reduce our impact.

“One of our councils, Campaspe Shire, is working hard in this area and has been implementing an education program that will include visits to Biomix.”

Biomix is a privately owned compost facility, operating on a 200-acre working farm in Carag Carag, Central Victoria. It’s responsible for the diversion of more than 100,000 tonnes of organics from landfill annually.

Surrounded by broad acre farms, orchards and wineries, the company specialises in developing compost for agricultural markets.

Mike says Biomix is unique from traditional waste companies, as it focuses on providing local councils direct access to a waste facility and the ability to track and contribute to a circular economy.

The company produces a mature compost and mulch product that is sold back to the community and wholesale channels. Mike says the aim is to produce a clean organic compost as free of contaminants as possible.

As an NCO-NASAA Certified Organic, Biomix has a “very clear contamination ratio” of what it will and won’t accept for processing.

Strict EPA compliance changes introduced in July 2021 under the Victorian Environment Protection Regulations 2021 aim to reduce contaminants in compost to less than five per cent and Mike anticipates that as an industry there will be further reductions in future years. However, contamination remains one of the biggest challenges to the industry.

“During the past year we have noted a heavier percentage of contaminants,” he says. “Everything from car brake rotors and car batteries , to household goods. We attribute it to COVID-19 lockdowns and travel restrictions over the past year.

“We have four people working at a picking station to take out as much contaminants as they can. But one bottle can smash into 100 pieces.”

Mike says Biomix conducts daily checks on every load delivered to the site and reports back to councils on contaminant type, weight and percentage. If the contamination rate is too high, the waste goes to landfill.

“Contaminants is something councils are working through,” he says. “They’re starting that FOGO journey so are very attentive to what goes into the bins. Rubbish in equals rubbish out.”

For more information visit:www.biomix com.au

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