Food organics collection trial planned for 2020

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

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

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

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

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

/Public Release. View in full here.