Tag Archives: Waste

FOGO commences in Manningham

DID YOU KNOW, on average, 56 per cent of the waste in our red-lidded bin is food waste?
Until now, the contents of our red-lid bins have been going to landfill, where all that food waste is released into the atmosphere as the harmful greenhouse gas methane as it decomposes.
Manningham Council is working towards a greener future by reducing food waste from residential garbage bins and diverting food waste from landfill through the Food Organics Garden Organics (FOGO) waste collection initiative.
This will help the government meet climate change emission reduction targets. Manningham’s FOGO service is now in effect.
Rachelle Quattrocchi, Director of City Services at Manningham Council, told the Diary that all Victorian Councils will introduce FOGO services by 2030 to assist in achieving the State Government target of diverting 80 per cent of waste from landfill by that year.
“Locally, removing food waste from residential garbage bins in Manningham will divert up to 20,000 tonnes per year from landfill — that’s enough waste to fill the outdoor pool at Aquarena 40 times,” she said.
She said when food waste breaks down in landfill, it creates methane, a greenhouse gas which is 23 times more damaging to the atmosphere than carbon dioxide. “Additionally, Australia’s landfill space is almost at capacity, and the cost of disposing of waste in landfill is continually increasing.
“Our focus is to collaborate with the community and provide information to assist residents with the introduction of FOGO,” she said.
By now, every household should have received a FOGO starter kit consisting of a kitchen caddy, a year’s supply (150) of compostable liners, and a new collection calendar.
The plastic-free compostable liners are Australian-certified and are actually made of vegetables.
They are very handy and should be used to help you collect and carry your household food scraps.
From May 2024, Council plans to provide each household with an annual resupply of compostable liners, which will be available to collect from Manningham Civic Centre or the Council Depot.
Remember, only lime green compostable liners with certified symbols of AS 4736 and AS 5810 are allowed to be placed into your FOGO bin.
If households run out before the annual resupply, major supermarkets sell alternatives such as the My Eco Bag brand, which sells a 36-litre, 25-pack for around $10. The FOGO Caddy is designed to be placed in your kitchen, and then, once full, the liner bags can be put into your existing, green-lidded bin, which, as of July 3, is now your FOGO bin.
The food and garden waste will be processed at Bio Gro, an organics facility in Dandenong, turning your organic waste into hi-grade compost, which will be used in farms and gardens across Victoria.
The rollout of the FOGO service also means changing how often bins are collected; the green-lidded FOGO bin will be collected weekly, while the red-lidded bin will be collected fortnightly, rotating collection with the yellow-lidded bins.
Ms Quattrocchi said Council will be tracking how the program is going, through weekly bin audits, to determine if more education is needed.
“Reducing waste to landfill will help us achieve net zero emissions for the organisation’s operations by 2028 and net zero community emissions by 2035,” she said.

What can go in the FOGO bin?

The rule of thumb is if you can eat it and grow it in the ground, you can put it in your FOGO bin.
For example:

  • fruit and vegetables
  • meat and bones
  • seafood
  • eggs and dairy
  • bread and pasta
  • rice and cereal
  • tissues and paper towel
  • shredded paper
  • garden waste
What cannot go in your FOGO bin?

Anything that is not compostable and will not be able to be processed, which includes:

  • food packaging
  • plastic wrapping
  • stickers
  • rubber bands
  • tins
  • biodegradable products
  • clam and oyster shells
  • liquids, fats, greases and oils
  • treated or painted timber and building materials
  • animal waste,
  • cat litter
  • vacuum dust
  • tea bags

Because some tea bags are made with metal staples, plastic, and nylons, they must be cut open with only the tea leaves allowed to go into the FOGO bin.

No change for businesses

Ms Quattrocchi told the Diary, all businesses with a Council commercial waste service will remain on a weekly red-lidded bin collection.
She said collection for business is incorporated within the waste collection of public litter bins which include those at activity centres and bus stops.
Currently, FOGO is not being rolled out for commercial properties.

Will the council charge residents higher rates?

The answer is no, as FOGO will be part of the annual waste service charge.
According to council modelling, the savings made by diverting 40 to 80 per cent of food waste from landfill will account for the cost of the FOGO service, so there should be no additional waste charge for FOGO.
However, households may need to upsize one or all of their bins due to the change in how waste is collected and processed; details of this and the costs involved can be found on Manningham Council’s website.
For households with two or more children under four — who may be impacted due to the necessity to dispose of used nappies, Council offers discounted bin upsizing options saving eligible households around $168 per year.
Details of this scheme and information about Manningham’s waste service, in general, can be found at manningham.vic.gov.au/waste-and-recycling.
Ms Quattrocchi said Council is using a variety of measures to help achieve its corporate and community emission targets, including:

  • Advocating for improved public transport
  • Promoting solar and other energy-saving measures for residents and businesses
  • Investing in water-sensitive urban planning, design, and drainage solutions
  • Harvesting stormwater for open-space irrigation
  • Improving how Council responds to extreme weather emergencies and providing support to vulnerable residents
  • Increasing the number of energy-efficient LED streetlights in Manningham
  • Supporting the rollout of electric vehicle infrastructure
  • Partnering with the Victorian Energy Collaboration (VECO) for wind-powered grid electricity and the Northern Alliance for Greenhouse Action (NAGA).
See the FOGO process in action

Readers who are interested in exactly what happens to their food and garden waste are invited to see for themselves on one of Manningham Council’s tours of the Bio Gro facility.
Tours start and end at Manningham Civic Centre, with a bus to transport those attending to the facility based in Dandenong South.
The next tour is currently scheduled for Tuesday, August 8.
For more information and to book your spot on the tour, visit manningham.vic.gov.au/events/fogo-tours-see-bio-gro-organics-facility.

The War on Waste continues

Recycling: increasing costs and new initiatives

OUR ARTICLES on recycling in recent issues of the Diary have met with much interest. Our ongoing look at the issue has garnered feedback from both residents and government alike, but sadly, not the recycling companies themselves.

Local Councils

Increased costs

The separate Manningham and Nillumbik Council meetings on June 25 each made reference to these councils signing deeds of amendment to their contracts with Visy Recycling and SKM Recycling respectively to amend the pricing for delivery of recyclables to these operators.
This comes as a consequence of China’s restrictions on imports of foreign waste, although the specific details in both instances were
confidential and held in closed meetings.

Soft plastics

Manningham does not accept soft plastics in the recycle bin.
Nillumbik Council has confirmed with the Diary that it is accepting soft plastics in a tied bag in the recycle bin, whereas SKM Recycling’s website tells us that no soft plastics are allowed.
We are advised that Nillumbik Shire Council is one of four councils currently participating in a trial project to collect and recycle soft
plastics in kerbside recycling bins.
The remaining Councils that send recycling to SKM do not have this arrangement.
After the bags of soft plastics are collected, they are sorted via manual picking or optical sorting technology, compacted, baled and sent to a plastic recycler either locally or overseas for recycling into a range of items including other soft plastics, street furniture and children’s toys.
This trial is currently being reviewed by the partner councils and Metropolitan Waste and Resource Recovery Group in light of data
collected over the past 18 months and the current challenges in Victoria’s recycling industry, and will continue until further notice as the review progresses.

Co-mingling and sorting

Whilst welcoming the initiative to start recycling soft plastic, for this writer, who already sorts waste into
landfill (red), recycling (yellow), garden big stuff (green) and food, ash, lawn clippings, leaves into our own compost bin which makes wonderful nourishment for our garden, the need to further segregate soft plastics became somewhat of a logistical problem.
We tried hanging a plastic bag in the kitchen waste cupboard, but there was no room and it got in the way, so we hung it outside by the bins and the contents blew all over the garden in the next gale!
Councils do not sort rubbish; they pick it up and deliver it.
This means that the sorting of rubbish is done either by the householder at one end of the chain or the recycling company at the other.
Recycling companies are noting that the mixing of glass, paper, aluminium, steel, plastic and cardboard into one yellow bin (co-mingling) can cause difficulties.
Co-mingling of multiple classes of recyclable product in the one bin causes cross contamination, e.g. glass gets into paper and plastic.
Asian countries have not actually banned the import of Australian recyclable waste; they have reduced t h e percentage of allowable
contamination to levels which are very difficult and costly to achieve, so this effectively can be regarded as a ban.
And some of the solutions in the pipeline may require us to further segregate our rubbish into yet more bins in the future.
New initiatives such as burning landfill waste to generate power will require an extra sorting process.
Only 50 per cent of red bin (landfill) contents is burnable, so either the householder will be asked to sort it, or the receiver will have to accept the lot, sort it themselves, and take the remainder to landfill.

Recycling companies

The Diary has made every effort to interview SKM Recycling and Visy Recycling, offering to see how the
sorting process works, report on what happens to the sorted materials, and take photos; however, all our efforts have fallen on deaf ears.

Nillumbik Council

Nillumbik Shire Council had put the creation of a domestic recycling scheme on the agenda at the Australian Local Government
Association conference in Canberra in mid-June, and Council hopes it will be supported and added to a national advocacy campaign.
Nillumbik Shire Council Mayor Karen Egan said putting items such as recycling on the national agenda would benefit councils and residents across the country.
“Many councils are facing the same issues and we look forward to working collaboratively to address them and seek support from the Federal Government,” Cr Egan said.
“Nillumbik has led the way when it comes to recycling for so many years and developing a domestic industry would mean we would no longer be reliant on China and other counties.”

Victorian Government

The Legislative Council, the upper house of the Victorian State Parliament, is currently in the process of conducting an inquiry into
Recycling and Waste Management.
Sonja Terpstra MP, State Upper House Member for Eastern Metropolitan Region, visited Warrandyte last month to inspect the new bridge.
She was impressed with the level of community engagement within Warrandyte and was interested in our coverage last month of recycling
matters, as she is a committee member sitting on the current inquiry process which is ongoing as we go to press.
Speaking as the Member for the Eastern Metropolitan Region, Ms. Terpstra noted that of the 12.9 million tonnes of total waste generated by Victorians in 2016–2017, 4.2 million tonnes was sent to landfill and 8.6 million tonnes was diverted from landfill for recycling.
Of this recovered material, 86 per cent remained in Victoria and only 14 per cent was exported overseas.
2.3 million tonnes of the total waste above was attributable to kerbside collections, and 46 per cent of this was diverted for recycling as a State average, although our local councils are doing much better.
Ms. Terpstra noted that Victorians are excellent recyclers — by and large.
She was keen to stress the low percentage, 14 per cent, of recyclables that were exported and felt that recent publicity concerning the policy
change in China made the problem appear larger than it actually was.
However, this did not take away from the fact that community concern still exists about exporting of recycling to other countries, contamination rates and the like.
Ms Terpstra also drew attention to other initiatives being taken by industry including:

  • •A proposal by Australian Paper to proceed with Victoria’s first energy-from-waste project with plans to use kerbside rubbish to
    help power its Maryvale Paper Mill; the scheme is in fact very similar to — but on a much larger scale than — the initiative being
    taken by Manningham Council to convert tree waste to biochar and further development of that technology to produce power,
    as we reported last month.
  • Advanced Circular Polymers’ $20 million advanced plastics recycling facility in Somerton, which received a $500,000 funding
    boost from the Andrews Labor Government and is set to process 70,000 tonnes of plastic each year.
  • The Government has issued a statewide exemption for local councils to remove the administrative barriers to extend their recycling
    collection contracts to June 2021 and look at future shared contracting of recycling services across multiple municipalities,
    which will help local councils save money in management and procurement costs.
  • The Victorian Budget 2019/20 is investing an additional $35 million to strengthen and diversify Victoria’s waste and recycling industry.
  • Lightweight, single-use plastic shopping bags will be banned across Victoria from November 1, 2019.
  • A complete ban on sending electronic waste to landfill came into effect on July 1.

Ms Terpstra observed shrewdly that we are spending a great deal of time working on how to get rid of rubbish, but perhaps our focus should include looking into why we are creating it in the first place.
Having just purchased a dashcam for my car which arrived in a plastic bag containing a cardboard box containing polystyrene and no less
than six sealed plastic bags containing things such as simple cables and USB adapters, which did not need to be wrapped, I have to question — do we really need all that packaging?

Repairing our throwaway culture


THE INAUGURAL Warrandyte Repair Café went off with a bang, a snip, a screw and a stitch on Sunday, July 7 at the Mechanics’ Institute Hall.
The initiative of the Warrandyte Mechanics’ and Arts Association is only the third Repair Cafe in Melbourne and follows in the footsteps of the movement that started in Amsterdam.
The event was held from 10:30 to 12:30 and organiser David Tynan was encouraged by the number of visitors and repairers that took part in the event.
“A great turnout,” said David as he gestured to the crew of volunteers around the room that had made the day a success.
Jillian McKinn offered her skills in garment repair and upcycling.
“It’s is a wonderful idea for people to learn to repair,” said Jillian, “I loathe the idea of a throwaway society, and I was delighted to be involved.”
Jillian worked alongside Agnes Stuyfbergen and Denise Farran to help Hazel Rice recover an old faded footstool with bright red Burmese woven fabric.
Agnes’ sewing skills were also put to good use teaching a visitor to darn a woollen jumper.
“I showed her how to do one hole,”
said Agnes, “and then she went home to do more.”
“It’s really exciting, so many people came in with a variety of different things.”
Greg Lawrence was working on a few small mechanical repairs and had a happy customer leave with his pressure pump sprayer working again.
“It’s a great idea — on two fronts — it gets people together and helps people out.”
Brian Prewett and Roger Gray worked together on a few appliances.
“Of the three, we fixed a slow cooker but the vacuum cleaner and toaster were simply worn out,” said Brian.
“The Repair Café suits me,” said Roger, “I like the idea of fixing something rather than trashing it.”
Jock Macneish was also on the scene.
“The repair café is a wonderful device for delaying the terrible moment when I realise I will become old and useless,” he said.
“While I can still fix things, I can delude myself,” he said.
The grin that followed was evidence of the fun and companionship shared over the event, and all participants are looking forward to next month’s event.
The next Repair Café will be held Sunday, August 4.

Grassroots sport focus of new Nillumbik budget

At the end of June, Nillumbik will adopt their 2018/19 annual budget.

Submissions from Nillumbik residents were being accepted during the month of May.

If the draft budget is adopted, this is how it will affect the Shire’s 64,000+ residents over the next 12 months.

Rates are always at the forefront of residents’ minds and there is a proposed rate increase of 1.95 per cent.

Nillumbik’s municipal rates charge, which was previously a separate and fixed charge of $95.84 per property has been “abolished” and subsequently absorbed into the general rates charge.

The ban by China on foreign waste which has impacted many municipalities will not impact the 2018/19 budget.

There is a $0 increase in waste management charges for Nillumbik households, which is in contrast to neighbouring municipalities which have seen an increase on their waste charges of around 20%.

Both Manningham and Yarra Ranges councils have attributed this increase to the impact of not being able to on-sell recyclable waste to China.

This is good news for Nillumbik ratepayers who are already paying higher rates for their kerbside waste collection, but it is also worth noting that Nillumbik’s ability to keep waste collection rates at 2017/18 levels could be attributed to the Shire’s generous recycling policy, which allows residents to recycle plastic bags and other soft plastics such as bubble wrap and plastic wrapping from food and appliances.

At present, residents of Manningham are required to place these materials in their general waste bin.

The “Green Wedge Shire” has sport and infrastructure as key projects on their agenda for the next financial year.

$32.246M has been set aside in the 2018/19 budget for these projects, key projects within this budget include:

• Diamond Creek Netball Club Pavilion
• Eltham Central Park oval pavilion upgrade
• Research Park Sports Pavilion
• Hurstbridge Line Overpass

Some money has also been set aside in the Council coffers for the Diamond Creek Trail extension — a project which will connect the cycle trail network all the way to Hurstbridge.

These projects cannot proceed without additional income from State Government.

In April 2018, Nillumbik Council announced they had successfully lobbied the Victorian Government and secured an additional $400,000 through the Growing Suburbs Fund, which is on top of a previous grant of $800,000 from State Government.

In April, Mayor Peter Clarke said, “Nillumbik Council will now have access to this important funding stream, along with an additional $400,000 to improve facilities for the Eltham Football and Cricket Clubs.”

The granting of funds from State Government came at the eleventh hour for Council when it was considering selling 17 parcels of Council land (including a number of reserves) which was strongly protested by Nillumbik residents.

As reported in the April Diary, Cr Clarke had indicated that additional funding was required for the development of leisure and infrastructure in Nillumbik and lobbying state and federal government to help foot the bill is preferred to selling off large amounts of land.

“As a result of our lobbying efforts we are now starting to crack open funding opportunities that may result in us being able to preserve these community assets, while at the same time delivering on new and upgraded community facilities.

“Our success in securing these funding opportunities has relieved pressure on Council to have to sell all 17 sites,” he said.

Projects such as developing sports pavilions and extending the Diamond Creek Trail will still require more funding than Council has put aside.

The 2018/19 budget reports that council may have to look at land sales as a way to generate funding for future Capital Works.

48 submissions were made to Council concerning the 2018/19 budget.

Many of the submissions declared support for the $1.5M Council earmarked for land acquisition for the Diamond Creek Trail extension,

There were also many voicing anger at Council for a lack of information about funding for Yarrambat Golf Course.

The Nillumbik Council Officer responded to all submissions concerning Yarrambat Golf Course with this statement:

“Council can confirm capital works will be undertaken during the 2018-19 financial year to the Golf Course.
In addition to the works and part of the maintenance program Council will be planting 500 trees around the facility.
Council continues to review the entire capital works program on an annual basis, this process includes (but is not limited to) assessment of renewal gap requirements, compliance with statutory obligations and consideration of future needs.
Specifically, with regard to the Yarrambat Golf Course ongoing review of the facility is continuing and should urgent works arise during the year they will be considered by Council.”

In terms of major projects, with Council’s focus on developing sporting grounds and infrastructure in the more urban areas of the Shire, there is not much in it for residents in more rural areas such as North Warrandyte, Bend of Islands or Christmas Hills.

In light of the $307M political football kicked by State Government Opposition Leader Matthew Guy, which promised the Coalition would fund the duplication of the railway line between Greensborough and Eltham, Nillumbik’s $1.7M Hurstbridge Line Overpass could indicate further disruption to Warrandyte residents and Bridge users, similar to what was seen in March and April of this year during the Clifton Hill–Greensborough upgrade.