Food organics garden organics - FOGO

Council will start a weekly kerbside collection of food organics and garden organics (FOGO) for township residents in early 2024.

Collected FOGO will be transported to Creswick Transfer Station where it will be transformed into compost which will be used locally to improve gardens, soil and farmland.

Council made the decision at its ordinary meeting in September 2023. 

Our bin audits show that around half of the contents of red-lidded landfill bins are made up of items that can go into FOGO. This includes food scraps and leftovers, meat, bones, dairy products, garden clippings, leaves and weeds. The audits also show a further 12 percent of the contents of red-lidded bins should have been placed in the yellow-lidded recycling bins. By separating items carefully, it may be possible to reduce the volume of waste going to landfill by around 60 percent.

As of May 2023, 234 of Australia’s 537 councils offered FOGO services, including Macedon Ranges Shire, City of Greater Bendigo, Melton City Council, Central Goldfields, Campaspe, Southern Grampians and more.

We will also investigate options to divert soft plastics from landfill.

We will work with the community over the coming months to educate and share information about the FOGO service and what we can all do to help make it a success. This will include direct contact with all eligible households. In the meantime you can keep in touch with Council via Facebook, sign up to our e-newsletter Hepburn Life or look out for our ads in local news publications.

What can go in a FOGO bin?

What goes into FOGO

Yes - Fruit and vegetable scraps, meat, bones, seafood, egg shells, leaves, plants, twigs, grass, coffee grounds and loose leaf tea.

No - Coffee pods, tea bags, plastic materials, bio-degradable and non-certified compostables, kitty litter, animal droppings, tree stumps and large branches.

Introducing FOGO - a short video

What you will receive

In early 2024, households in townships will receive a lime-green FOGO bin and a seven litre caddy for your kitchen bench or cupboard.

Three bins and kitchen caddy

Frequently asked questions

Who will receive a weekly FOGO collection?

Township residents who currently receive a weekly kerbside collection service will receive a 120L lime green-lidded Food Organics Garden Organics (FOGO) kerbside collection. This will be a WEEKLY FOGO collection for townships (Clunes, Creswick, Daylesford, Hepburn, Hepburn Springs, Trentham). The service will start in early 2024.

What will township kerbside collection look like once FOGO is rolled out?

  • Lime green-lidded FOGO bin – collected weekly
  • Red-lidded general waste (landfill) bins – collected fortnightly
  • Yellow-lidded recycling bins – collected fortnightly.

What can go in the FOGO bin?

FOGO stands for food organics and garden organics.  

Anything that grows belongs in the green FOGO bin. This includes all food waste (including meat, fish, bones, fruit, vegetables, leftovers, scraps, bread and more) and all garden organics (e.g. grass clippings, weeds, rose cuttings and more). Material placed in the green FOGO bin is collected by council contractors and taken to Creswick Transfer Station compost facility where it is turned into compost. 

Bin audits show that more than half (53%) of the contents of red-lidded general waste landfill bins are made up of items that can go into FOGO. 

Fortnightly rubbish collection isn't enough for my household. What can I do?

We understand that some households may be concerned that a fortnightly general waste bin won’t be sufficient for their needs. Households will have the option to purchase additional collection services. However, most importantly, Council’s Waste Team will work on a thorough education campaign to help households to separate waste correctly and reduce the amount of general waste that goes to landfill.

Our bin audits show that more than 50% of the content in most red-lidded bins will be able to go in your FOGO bin, and that around 12% in red-lidded bins can actually go into the yellow-lidded recycling bin.

We are also looking into options for recycling soft plastics, which will also help to reduce the volume of items that goes to landfill.

When waste is sorted into the correct bins, most households (but not all) will not have an issue with excess waste.

Changes won't come into effect until early 2024. We suggest you trial having one red-lidded landfill bin and see how you go. You might be surprised at how it works. Excess rubbish can also be taken to one of our three Transfer Stations for a fee.

How much will it cost?

There will be no additional costs for households for this financial year (finishes 30 June 2024). There will be in charge for the FOGO service from 1 July 2024 onwards. This will be balanced with a decrease in the charge for landfill bin costs (since the service would move to fortnightly). The exact change in cost will be determined in Council’s budget discussions. Because the FOGO is processed locally costs will be kept to a minimum.

Can I opt out of FOGO collection?

If you currently receive a weekly collection service you won’t be able to opt-out.

Why is Council introducing FOGO kerbside collection?

The roll-out of FOGO is an action in our Sustainable Hepburn Strategy, which was co-designed with 400 people in our community. In developing the strategy (and the 2023 waste survey) a strong message from the community was that FOGO services were desired.

A FOGO collection will reduce waste to landfill. More than half of the material currently placed in the red-lidded general waste landfill bin is food waste that would be suitable for the lime green-lidded FOGO bin. A weekly FOGO service divert this valuable resource from landfill. Reducing waste to landfill will in turn help to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and minimise future waste costs associated with using landfill. 

Additionally, bin audits have shown that on average, 12% of the content of a red-lidded bin should be placed in the yellow-lidded recycling bin.   

The state government requires all Victorian Councils to introduce a FOGO service by 2030. 

Many local governments have already introduced a FOGO service, including Macedon Ranges Shire, City of Greater Bendigo, Melton City Council, Central Goldfields, Campaspe and Southern Grampians and more. As of May 2023, 234 of Australia’s 537 councils offered FOGO services. 

Do food scraps have to be certified organic to be able to go in the FOGO bin?

No. Organic is used as a general term for anything that grows. 

Will rural properties get a FOGO bin?

Properties outside of the weekly township collection areas won’t be included in the initial roll-out. However, they will be able to drop off food organics at transfer stations once the service begins - up to 120L of food organics will be able to be dropped off free of charge. Council will review the rural service next financial year. 

What are the environmental benefits of FOGO?

When organic matter breaks down in landfill it creates methane, a greenhouse gas that is 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide. Composting organics emits about one-tenth of the amount of CO2 compared to when it is sent to landfill. Since the FOGO is processed locally there will also be less transport costs associated with taking FOGO to our composting units at Creswick.

I live in Clunes. What will the change mean for me?

Clunes residents have participated in a FOGO trial since March 2021. Clunes residents will keep their current bins. The red-lidded landfill bins will be collected fortnightly once the FOGO collection is introduced Shire-wide in early 2024.

Won’t my bin get smelly if only collected fortnightly?

A lot of odours will be prevented if all food and garden waste is placed in the weekly FOGO bin. We recommend keeping bins in a shady area between collection days and wrapping waste products that may smell (e.g. nappies) in plastic or newspaper.

If you are interested in making the switch to reusable cloth nappies to help further reduce waste, Council periodically runs workshops to assist with this.  Contact the Waste Team for more details at bins@hepburn.vic.gov.au

What if I already compost at home?

Home composting is a great sustainable option for recycling organic material. You can still compost at home and use the kerbside FOGO bin for items that may not be suitable for your home composting system such as citrus, meat and raw bones along with excess garden organics. 

What happens to the FOGO waste collected?

Organic material collected through the kerbside FOGO bin is taken to Creswick Transfer Station where there are two in-vessel composting units. The in-vessel compost units use an aerobic process which generates some carbon dioxide. If organic material goes to landfill it breaks down anaerobically, which produces methane. Methane is a greenhouse gas that is 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide.

Organic material is processed in these units to create a high-quality compost. We are working through the best options for the use of the compost in our Shire. Compost has been successfully used locally on gardens and farmland.

What is the proposal to remove soft plastics from bins?

As part of Council's decision to proceed with the roll-out of FOGO collection, it also committed to investigate options to divert soft plastics from landfill. Officers will investigate options and report back to Council. 

Will commercial properties be included in the changes?

If your property is commercially rated, you will not be included in the initial FOGO roll-out. Businesses will have the option to opt-in to FOGO services (like they currently do for landfill and recycling) from July 2024. Charges will apply.

If you are a business in Clunes that is part of the FOGO trial your FOGO will continue to be collected. Charges will apply from July 2024.

Businesses that have kerbside collection through Council will continue to receive weekly red-lidded bin collections. 

Will short-term accommodation be included in the changes?

If your property is used as short-term accommodation and is rated as residential, it will be included in the changes and a FOGO bin will be allocated to the property.

If the property is rated as commercial property, it will not be affected by these changes. Properties rated as commercial will be able to opt-in for a FOGO service from July 2024.

How has Council engaged with the community to recommend the changes?

Council adopted the Sustainable Hepburn Strategy 2022-2026 in 2022. The strategy was co-designed with a dedicated Community Reference Group with input from over 400 community members. Through this engagement there was strong community support to expand FOGO services.  

Council also launched a Waste Survey in 2023 to better understand how our residents use our current waste services. This was to gather feedback on what information and support residents need from Council on their low waste journey. There was strong support for a FOGO collection through this survey.

Won’t the additional trucks used for weekly FOGO lead to more greenhouse gas emissions?

When organic matter breaks down in landfill it creates methane, a greenhouse gas that is 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide. The emissions associated with an additional bin truck are insignificant compared to the methane emissions saving made from the switch to weekly FOGO. 

A truck filled with 25 tonnes of FOGO can be driven 15,444km to a composting facility before it emits the same amount of greenhouse gases as that same truckload put into landfill. For some comparison, driving from Daylesford to Brisbane, then to Darwin, across to Perth, up to Alice Springs, down to Adelaide and back to Daylesford is around 13,800km!

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