Food organics collection trial planned for 2020

Wednesday, 30 October 2019

The City of Greater Geelong is planning to begin a trial food organics collection service in 2020, as it explores all options to minimise the amount of waste being sent to landfill.

A pilot kerbside food organics collection program will be planned in the coming months and introduced late next year.  

With almost a third of contents in each household red bin being food, the proposed service would heavily reduce the City’s use of landfill, while also cutting greenhouse gas emissions.

The trial was one of a range of actions discussed during Tuesday night’s council meeting.

Council also agreed to fund an extra $300,000 in 2019-20 to allow recycling hubs at the North Geelong and Drysdale Resource Recovery Centres to continue with increased levels of service.

The two centres have been accepting separated recyclable materials dropped off by residents since July, when the collapse of SKM Recycling forced the City of Greater Geelong and councils across the state to start sending the contents of yellow bins to landfill.

The increased levels of service have allowed the two centres to accept extra materials – such as glass – which are then recycled.

During the same discussion, councillors noted the many recycling options investigated by staff in seeking long- and short-term solutions.

This has included the potential introduction of a fourth or fifth bin for paper and cardboard and/or glass only, which could reduce contamination and result in a higher rate of materials being recycled.

Given the high cost of introducing extra bins (between $4.3 million and $6.5 million per year depending on the materials collected and frequency of collection), council has agreed to wait until the release of the state government’s review of kerbside bin services before making a decision. 

City staff have contributed to this review, which is expected to provide recommendations on extra bins statewide.

The report confirmed that the City of Greater Geelong is negotiating a contract with the new owner of the Materials Recovery Facility in South Geelong.

Once an agreement has been reached, recycling of co-mingled materials collected in yellow bins will resume. This is seen as a ‘medium-term’, rather than long-term solution.

The report also noted the City’s ongoing efforts to find innovative ways to contribute to a ‘circular economy’, including the use of recycled materials in asphalt programs, recycled concrete in footpaths, recycled rubber for athletics tracks, and recycled plastic for seats and bollards in recreation reserves.

Further innovations are being explored through partnerships with local businesses, Deakin University, Cleantech Innovation Geelong, neighbouring G21 councils and Wyndham City.

It was noted that the City of Greater Geelong has received just under $1.06 million through the state government’s Recycling Rebate Program. This funding reimburses approximately 98 per cent of the additional costs resulting from the recycling crisis.

Mayor Stephanie Asher:

Waste management is at a critical point across Victoria, and we are one of many councils to have felt the impact of the collapse of SKM in 2019.

It’s encouraging to see City of Greater Geelong staff coming up with positive initiatives to help reduce our reliance on landfill, and we look forward to seeing the results of the trial food organics collection program in 2020.

While it would be tempting to press ahead and introduce extra bins, the current state government review means it is wise to wait. Given the high costs, it would be counter-productive to implement one solution, only for the state to legislate for something different.

That said, I am keen to see our region utilised as a trial site for innovative solutions, as I believe our community is keen to see action and willing to try anything if it has the potential to help the environment.

As a council we have spoken up strongly for state government investment to address the current problems, and we are continuing to call for the introduction of a container deposit scheme and construction of new Materials Recovery Facilities.

Councillor Sarah Mansfield, Chair, Environment and Sustainability portfolio:

The issue of waste is a difficult one, with the landscape changing weekly and policy uncertainty at state and federal levels persisting.

Council is continuing to investigate more innovative longer-term solutions to reduce waste and achieve better environmental and economic outcomes. In the meantime, returning to kerbside co-mingled recycling is the best short-term option.

We are listening to the community and look forward to seeing the impact of the planned food organics trial next year. Council will also continue to advocate strongly to the state government for the introduction of a container deposit scheme.

Page last updated: Wednesday, 30 October 2019