Not going to waste: Randwick residents making a difference

Published Date
News Topic
Sustainability & Environment
A local family participating in FOGO

It’s easy, simple and is helping our environment big time. Here’s why our locals are loving FOGO and what you can do to get involved.

Randwick City residents have diverted more than 26,000 tonnes of food and garden waste from landfill in just the past two years. This has the same environmental benefit as removing 9,000 cars from the road permanently.

It’s all thanks to FOGO (Food and Garden Organics), which has been embraced by many locals since it was introduced in March 2021. Residents simply place their food waste and garden organics in the same green bin for composting.

As an avid ocean swimmer, Coogee resident Christelle Damiens has always been very environmentally aware, so she wanted to be part of FOGO from day one.

“I am very conscious about creating as minimal waste as possible, and I like the fact that [the collected waste] is going to be used as compost. It’s brilliant. I love it.”

For Maroubra local Ricky Klein, it’s an opportunity to reduce his environmental footprint, while also teaching the next generation.

“Before we had FOGO we did composting. I like the process but if I’m honest, composting just took too much time out of my day to maintain properly and FOGO simplifies that. “I enjoy teaching my two-year-old about how to recycle and where trash goes. For her to learn, ‘this one goes in the green bin’ or ‘this one goes in the recycling’, that’s a fun activity and it’s been nice to get some parenting time out of it as well!”

Setting the standard

By 2030, all local councils will be required under a NSW government mandate to implement a food and garden waste collection program. In an effort to streamline the scheme, the NSW Environment Protection Agency (EPA) has announced some changes as to what can and can’t go into the green lid FOGO bin.

You can no longer put items like soiled paper towels and tissues, compostable cutlery made from bamboo and cardboard, pizza boxes, paper and pet poo into the FOGO bin.

Although these items make up just five per cent of the overall FOGO material collected in Randwick City, the EPA is concerned that some materials may contain additives and chemicals, which then risk contaminating the environment if composted.

Confused? Don’t be. If it’s in the kitchen, focus on food waste. If it’s in the garden, focus on anything that grows. Everything else is likely to belong in either the red landfill bin or yellow recycling bin.

Additionally, you can search ‘FOGO changes from 2023’ on for a comprehensive A-Z guide of what can and cannot go into the FOGO bin.

What’s the deal with bin liners?

It’s important to note that while you can no longer put compostable packaging into your FOGO bin for composting, you can still use a certified compostable liner, paper towels or newspaper to line the caddy.

The EPA understands that using newspaper and paper towels as caddy bin liners can make it easier for households to separate their food scraps in the kitchen.

Alternatively, you can order new compostable caddy liners through Randwick City Council online or buy them at the supermarket - just make sure they have ‘AS4736’ compostability certification on the label.

Strength in numbers

A recent audit showed that while FOGO participation was high among those living in houses, it was significantly lower among apartment dwellers.

Possible reasons include high tenancy turnover rates, as well as hesitancy among some residents to put food waste in shared bins.

Ricky, who lives in an apartment with his partner and young daughter, said it’s important to make it work for you.

“My trick is to feel OK with throwing out a bag that’s half full; just changing the bin liners regularly is one thing that I’ve learned. Don’t make it a chore, make it something that you feel OK with and feel comfortable having in your kitchen.”

Randwick City Council’s Waste and Resource Recovery Officer, Alexandra Bastos, is encouraging more residents to get on board and spread the word to their neighbours.

“It’s easy, simple and you can make a big difference. It’s only working because everyone is playing their part. I really want to thank our residents for what they’ve achieved.”

Updated bin room posters and FOGO guides can be downloaded from Randwick City Council’s website. Council’s waste education team can also work with you to help educate residents and improve the waste management in your building.

Tips for keeping odours and insects at bay:

  1. Put garden matter such as leaves and grass clippings on top of food waste
  2. Keep the caddy lid closed and in a shady spot
  3. Regularly wash all bins
  4. Freeze meat, dairy and seafood waste before you put them in the bin the night before collection
  5. Wrap meat, dairy and seafood waste in newspaper or paper towel before placing it in the bin
Last Updated: 15 March 2023
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