What you can do to reduce food waste going to landfill
Food waste typically makes up one-third of waste that goes into the red lid rubbish bins which ultimately end up in the landfill. Twenty per cent of food thrown out is due to buying too much or not storing food correctly. By reducing food scraps, we can reduce waste to landfill. Sending food waste to landfill cost the economy an estimated $20 billion a year and rotting food also produces methane, a greenhouse gas.
Being mindful when grocery shopping
We generally tend to shop for more than what we need, which often leads to food waste. You can avoid or reduce generating food waste by planning your meals, shopping for only what you need, storing food correctly, and being creative with leftovers.
Tools to help reduce food waste
The City of Sydney has partnered with the NSW Government and launched a program called Love Food Sydney, which provides free tools to reduce food waste, save money and protect the environment. Visit the website to join this free program.
Composting is a great way to reduce your food waste and greenhouse gas emissions. Compost is simply decayed organic matter such as banana skin or vegetable peels, or eggshells. When you mix a bunch of these items together in a compost pile, they break down naturally into a nutrient-rich fertilizer that helps gardens grow. Almost anything that comes from the ground can be composted. You can throw stale bread, cereal, and pasta in your compost heap too as well as coffee grounds, tea leaves and herbs.
What can’t be composted? Meat, fish, butter, yogurt, cheese, milk or animal fat cannot be composted. Basically, anything oily should be kept out. Pet waste should also be composted separately.
Compost not only minimises methane emissions, but it is also a great fertilizer so it also reduces the need for chemicals.
But not all of us have a suitable area to house a compost bin, so what are the options if you don’t?
Shared composting in apartment blocks
Numerous owners corporations are now installing communal compost bins and worm farms on common property. There is work educating residents on how to correctly compost, but if clear guidelines are issued, communal composting tends to be successful and welcomed by owners and renters alike.
One of our clients who has had a communal compost in their complex for a number of years commented ‘while recycling of paper and plastics can sometimes get mixed up, food waste composting seems to be the one thing people remember what should and shouldn’t be included”
Obtaining a financial incentive for composting
Compostrevolution.com.au is a social venture that has partnered with a number of councils to offer up to 80% off composting gear to reduce landfill. Check their website to see if your council is part of the compost revolution. Even if your council isn’t a partner, compostrevolution may still offer a discount on their products.
If you can’t find your council listed on this website, check your own council’s website as they may have their own program. For example Northern Beaches Council offers residents a $90 voucher to residents if they attend a workshop composting.
Community gardens offering composting
More and more community gardens have popped up over recent years. Community gardens offer members, (generally local residents) a place to grow fruit and vegetables, with some offering a place to drop off compost. To check to see if your area has a community garden, go to google and type in ‘community gardens’ you should see a listing and map outlining where all your local community gardens are.
Some councils, such as the City of Ryde, have established communal food gardens where local residents can bring food and vegetable scraps and place them in the compost bins.
Sharewaste is a community-run program that lists people in your local community that has a compost heap that can take scraps. Using the program is easy, simply sign up and find a local member to contact who will take your food scraps.
Food Scrap Recycling Trails
A number of councils, such as City of Sydney and Canterbury Bankstown Council are currently trialing the recycling of food scraps from residential properties. Some councils are providing free compost buckets for residents in the trail to place their food scraps in, while other councils have started to collect food scraps in separate vegetation and food waste bins.
Just remember not all councils are providing food scrap recycling just yet, so before you go add your food scraps to your green bin, check with your local council.
Food scrap recycling programs currently underway
The City of Sydney is trialling food scrap recycling with 1,037 houses and 99 apartment buildings across the city. Phase 2 will bring an additional 150 apartment buildings into the trial. Food scraps will be sent to Australia’s first food waste-to-energy processing facility EarthPower in Camellia. The scraps will be processed using anaerobic digestion technology, where microorganisms break down biodegradable material in a chamber without oxygen. This process produces biogas which is converted to green electricity and a nutrient-rich sludge that is dried and granulated to produce nutrient rich fertiliser.
Woollahra Council collects food scraps in their green bin collections. Residents in this council catchment area can get a free caddy or compostable bags to get started (note you must provide your details before 31 January 2021).
Canterbury Bankstown Council is offering a free food scrap collection service trial for a limited number of apartment blocks. If your apartment block is selected, the Council will provide a communal compost bin, and food caddy bins and compostable caddy liners per household.
Inner West Council offers a range of options to divert food scraps from landfill depending on the suburb you live in. Visit their website for more information.
Randwick Council is also providing a new food scraps recycling program called FOGO which stands for Food Organics and Garden Organics. This service is available for all households commencing March 2021. Existing green bins will be replaced with a lime green lid FOGO bin for both garden and food waste.
How to initiate better food waste management in your community?
If your building is using red lid bins for food scraps, maybe it’s time to explore options for a more sustainable method. First check on your local council’s website to see what they offer for food scrap recycling.
If your local council doesn’t currently offer food scrap recycling to all residents, communal composting could provide a good solution for your strata complex. To get the idea in front of your strata committee, first research the options, and get in touch with someone on your strata committee to get the process going. It only takes small steps to become more sustainable.
Contact your Strata Plus strata manager for more information.
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- Waverley Council – Building Futures
- Ku-ring-gai Council – Smart Units Rebates
- City of Sydney – Smart Green Apartments
- City of Sydney – Food Scraps Recycling Trial
- Lane Cove Council – Greener Apartments Program
- Canada Bay Council – Our Energy Future
- Randwick City Council – Community Sustainable
- North Sydney Council – Futureproofing Apartments
- City of Ryde – Home Waste and Sustainability Advisory Service