Proposal to collect food scraps in kerbside bins

Up to 40,000 tonnes of organic waste could be diverted from landfill under an ACT Government proposal to collect food scraps in kerbside bins.

The plan is part of a suite of new recommendations outlined in the ACT Government’s Waste Feasibility Study, which was released for public consultation on Tuesday.

If all were implemented, the government said the ACT’s resource recovery rate could jump from about 70 per cent, to a nation leading 87 per cent, potentially diverting a total of 170,000 tonnes of waste from landfill.

However, the ACT Greens voiced concerns the government had not ruled out incineration to dispose of waste.

The study made 18 recommendations, including the ACT Government develop a waste-to-energy policy which would address community concerns, provides certainty to industry, and establishes a framework for assessing future proposals.

Minister for Transport and City Services Meegan Fitzharris said the recommendations had been consistent with the waste hierarchy principle to reduce, reuse and recycle waste above energy recovery and landfilling.

“This is more important than ever now that we are moving into a new era where China has become stricter as to the kinds of waste they will accept.

“The recommendations in this report build on the ACT Government’s commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by focusing on the reduction of organic material from landfill and will complement the green bin collection service already being rolled-out across the city.

ACT Greens spokesperson for the Environment, and Climate Change and Sustainability, Shane Rattenbury, welcomed the commitment to divert and process more organic waste.

Mr Rattenbury said food scraps made up a significant amount of the waste that goes into kerbside garbage bins and the “third green bin” service had the potential to collect this waste.

“We urgently need to divert organic waste away from landfill. Organic waste in landfill is a significant source of greenhouse gas emissions,” he said.

“Landfilling organic material also wastes a product that could be usefully reused – for example to improve soils.”

However, the potential to revert to waste incineration remained a concern, he said.

“We do not want to see waste incineration in the ACT, and neither do ACT residents. We should not be burning our waste – as it’s more polluting and less effective than other, cleaner methods.

“The ACT Greens have ruled out supporting waste incineration and the ACT Government should have done the same in this new waste policy.

“With the Federal Liberal Government now actively pushing for incineration as a waste and recycling ‘solution’’, the ACT should be clear it will only pursue the cleanest and most sustainable technologies.”

The discussion paper can be found online at www.yoursay.act.gov.au for the next six weeks.

ACT NoWaste will host two information sessions for community and industry groups at the Griffin Centre, 20 Genge Street, Civic, on May 30 from 5.30pm and May 31 from 8am.