Melbourne City Council’s food and garden waste plan is stalling

The City of Melbourne is conducting a FOGO test system for 20,000 households but has yet to implement it citywide. Wyndham is building its own facility and won’t begin a trial until next year. Port Phillip and Manningham both plan to introduce a FOGO system next year and Maroondah did not respond to a request for comment.

Manningham Mayor Michelle Kleinert said the lack of processing facilities is one of the reasons the council’s program is not scheduled to start until next year.

“In order to accept yard waste food in Manningham, we had to work with the other Eastern Region communities to acquire a new processing facility due to a lack of local organic processing capacity,” she said.

Melbourne Regional Landfill at Ravenhall. Recognition:Joe Armao

The state government wants all municipalities to have FOGO collection and processing by 2030.

A government spokesman declined to comment on whether processing plants were operating at full capacity, but said many councils said they wanted to start tackling food waste and green organic processing before the 2030 deadline.

“The government is investing in new facilities to build capacity in this emerging industry, which will take time to develop as we work toward our 2030 target,” the spokesman said. “By the end of 2022, four plants will be commissioned by the government, which will provide additional capacity.”

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Sustainability The latest data from Victoria shows 1.3 million tonnes of food waste was collected in 2020. About a quarter of Victorian households used a roadside collection service for food and garden organics, almost double the number in 2018-2019.

Municipalities that already collect food waste have tried to increase their collection from fortnightly to weekly. According to the City of Monash, Monash, Boroondara, Glen Eira, Bayside and Kingston are all investigating moving to a weekly collection.

Monash’s two-week collection diverts just 20 percent of food waste from landfill, well below his 75 percent goal.

“Audits of the contents of landfill bins show that a significant volume of food waste still remains in landfill bins,” reads a Council submission.

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Fortnightly collections have discouraged some residents. Nearly all negative comments on FOGO relate to odors and pests, as food waste stays in the trash for up to two weeks, the filing states.

Clifton Hill resident Zoe Alsop, who goes by the name of Helga, would like to see the introduction of a FOGO service in the town of Yarra back in the budget and is scheduled to present a petition to the council at its Monday night meeting calling for FOGO implementation.

Alsop said she’s tired of having to send her food waste to landfill and worries about throwing away leftovers that could be a resource.

“Not everyone has a garden, but everyone has food waste,” she said. “I was sad to see infrastructure was a possibility and then it was removed for a reason I didn’t understand.”

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