SA launches FOGO research to combat household compost

A new South Australian research project is aiming to encourage efficient FOGO disposal by understanding household behaviours around food waste. 

The what, where, and why of Household Food Waste Behaviour project is in collaboration with the Fight Food Waste CRC, East Waste, the University of Adelaide, Green Industries SA and sub-contractor Rawtec.

​Building on existing international research, the project will utilise detailed micro-waste auditing, ongoing waste disposal monitoring technology and novel household surveys from a broad cross-section of the community, to develop a comprehensive report on household  food waste bin behaviour.

Fight Food Waste CRC outlined in its plan that ultimately the project aims to successfully change household food waste behaviour in the long-term to achieve the recycling of food waste into a valuable commodity as opposed to sending it to landfill.

“Whilst this project will be focussed on Adelaide, similar benefits can be expected for councils in other Australian cities,” Fight Food Waste CRC said in its project plan.

Fraser Bell, East Waste Chair said that diverting food waste from landfill represents the single biggest financial and environmental opportunity for councils.

“Food waste is a valuable commodity and we hope to improve household bin disposal behaviour,” Bell said.

“Through this new research, we will build a picture of the behaviour of our residents, including the levers that can influence positive and sustainable changes in their practices moving forward.”

Dr Steven Lapidge, Fight Food Waste CRC Chief Executive Officer, said this SA project complements the Fight Food Waste CRC’s national research efforts focused on household food waste behaviour change.

“This is a big opportunity for Australians to save money through reducing household food waste, as well as to divert as much unavoidable food waste from landfill,” he said.

“Local governments across Australia can learn from this leading research project.”

Following this research project, the City of Mount Gambier has introduced a universal FOGO service for residential properties due to recently receiving $32,954 towards the initiative via the State Government Kerbside Performance Plus (Food Organics) Incentives Program.

City of Mount Gambier residents will no longer have to pay an additional fee to subscribe to the kerbside FOGO bin service from 1 July 2020, with council endorsing a plan to absorb the cost of the service into general rates for residential properties.

To date the service has been provided by council on an ‘opt in’ basis whereby residents subscribe through an annual payment of $85.00. Under the change residents will only be required to pay an initial fee to cover the cost of the official green organics bin if they do not already have one.

The most recent kerbside bin audit conducted by council staff indicated that on average 45 per cent of household waste going to landfill is organic matter that could be diverted and recycled through composting.

With 6,853 households currently subscribed to the service and the number set to increase, it is forecast the change will represent a loss of more than $500,000 from council’s operating revenue that will be absorbed through rate revenue.

Nick Serle, City of Mount Gambier General Manager City Infrastructure, said It is much more cost effective for council to dispose of organic matter to a commercial composting operation than it is for it to end up in landfill where it decreases the life of each cell and increases the emission of harmful greenhouse gases.

“This is a large investment however we are confident the savings and environmental benefits that will result from less organic matter entering and contaminating landfill will far outweigh the initial loss of income.”

He said the technology installed on the waste trucks will enable the contents of all bins to be closely monitored.

It is anticipated that by reducing the barriers to accessing the FOGO service that residents will be able to experience first-hand how easily they can reduce their volume of general waste simply by sorting it into the appropriate stream.

Lynette Martin OAM, City of Mount Gambier Mayor, said she is confident residents will see a big reduction in their general waste each week, just by utilising the kitchen caddy system.

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