Food and garden organics
Council will start a weekly kerbside collection of food and garden organics (also called FOGO) for township residents starting 8 April 2024.
Households in Creswick, Trentham, Daylesford, Hepburn and Hepburn Springs will receive a lime green-lidded bin and kitchen caddy in mid-to-late-March, with the weekly collection starting in townships after Easter. The weekly organics collection will continue in Clunes, where residents have successfully trialled the service since 2021.
Items 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.
With the introduction of weekly organics collection for townships, red-lidded landfill (general rubbish) bins will move to fortnightly collection, with no changes to the fortnightly yellow-lidded recycling collection.
Here's is a video we created to provide an overview of the new service.
Our bin audits show that around half of the contents of red-lidded landfill bins are made up of items that can go into the lime green-lidded food and garden organics bin. This includes food scraps and leftovers, meat, bones, dairy products, garden clippings, leaves and non-noxious weeds. The audits also show a further 12 percent of the contents of red-lidded bins are items that could be recycled 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.
Fifty-three out of 79 councils in Victoria already offer organics collection services. As of May 2023, 234 of Australia’s 537 councils offered this service, including Macedon Ranges Shire, City of Greater Bendigo, Melton City Council, Central Goldfields, Campaspe, Southern Grampians and more.
We will work with the community to educate and share information about the upcoming 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 food and garden organics bin?
Yes - Fruit and vegetable scraps (including citrus, onions and garlic), meat, bones, seafood, egg shells, dairy, leftovers and out-of-date food, leaves, garden prunings and grass, plants, twigs, grass, non-noxious weeds, coffee grounds and loose leaf tea.
No - Plastic or compostable or biodegradable bags, coffee pods, tea bags, compostable or biodegradable items (such as plates and cutlery), cooking oils, kitty litter, animal droppings, tree stumps, noxious weeds and large branches.
Read our flyer(PDF, 2MB) with more information for households.
What you will receive
In March 2024, households in townships will receive a lime green-lidded bin and a seven litre caddy for your kitchen bench or cupboard.
Frequently asked questions
Who will receive a weekly food and garden organics collection?
Township residents who currently receive a weekly kerbside collection service will receive a 120L lime green-lidded food and garden organics kerbside collection. This will be a WEEKLY 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 it is rolled out?
- Lime green-lidded food and garden organics bin – collected weekly
- Red-lidded general waste (landfill) bins – collected fortnightly
- Yellow-lidded recycling bins – collected fortnightly.
Why can't I use bags in the caddy or bin?
Our is a bagless system. Even compostable or biodegradable bags can't be used. You can place food scraps and garden cuttings straight into your caddy and lime green-lidded bin.
We don’t use bags for a few reasons:
Bags can hide contaminants (i.e. things that aren’t food or garden waste)
Bags don’t break down quickly enough – even compostable and biodegradable bags don’t break down fast enough
Bags are really hard to remove from the piles of organic matter – they have to be removed by hand!
It’s best practice to keep bags out of composting systems.
What can go in the food and garden organics bin?
Anything that grows belongs in the lime green-lidded 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 this bin is collected 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 the food and garden organics bin.
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 lime green-lidded 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 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 items are processed locally costs will be kept to a minimum.
Can I opt out of the collection?
If you currently receive a weekly collection service you won’t be able to opt-out. Providing a food and garden organics service is mandated by the Victorian Government before 2030. Fifty-three out of 79 councils in Victoria already offer organics collection services.
Why is Council introducing this collection?
The roll-out of kerbside food and garden organics 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 this service was desired.
This service 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 bin. A weekly service will 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 food and garden organics service by 2030.
Many local governments have already introduced this, 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 this service.
I live in Clunes. What will the change mean for me?
Clunes residents have participated in a separate food and garden organics collection trial since March 2021. Clunes residents will keep their current bins. The red-lidded landfill bins will be collected fortnightly once the food and garden organics collection is introduced Shire-wide in early 2024.
Will rural properties get a food and garden organics 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 happens to the food and garden waste collected?
Organic material collected through the kerbside food and garden organics bin is taken to Creswick Transfer Station and placed into 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.
Do food scraps have to be certified organic to be able to go in the lime green-lidded bin?
No. Organic is used as a general term for anything that grows.
What are the environmental benefits of a separate bin collection?
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 materials are processed locally there will also be less transport costs associated with taking these items to our composting units at Creswick.
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 food and garden organics 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 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 is the proposal to remove soft plastics from bins?
As part of Council's decision to proceed with the roll-out of food and garden organics collection, we also committed to investigate options to divert soft plastics from landfill. Officers will investigate options and report back to Council.
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 food and garden organic collection 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 separate collection through this survey.
Won't the additional trucks used for weekly collection 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 food and garden organics collections.
A food and garden collection truck filled with 25 tonnes 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!
How do we know that weeds won't be spread with the use of compost?
The food and garden materials are placed in the in-vessel composting units. Inside the vessels, temperatures quickly rise, pathogens and weed seeds are neutralised and pasteurisation occurs. The process is closely monitored as the material is transformed into nutrient rich compost. Once it is matured, the compost is screened and tested to ensure it is high quality and meets Australian standards.
Which townships will receive the organics service?
The organics collection will be rolled out to those townships that currently receive a weekly collection - Creswick, Trentham, Daylesford, Hepburn and Hepburn Springs. Clunes already has an organics through a trial that started in 2021. Council will review the rural collection service in 2024/2025.
Can I put blackberry and gorse in the organics bins?
Blackberry and Gorse are declared noxious weeds, which are illegal to transport without a permit and are not accepted in the organics bins nor at our transfer stations. Other noxious weeks are Briar Rose, Cape Broom, English Broom, Hawthorn, Hemlock, Prickly Pear Cactus, Soursob, Spiny Broom, Spiny Rush, Thistle species and Willows. Read more in our Noxious weed guide. (PDF, 1MB)
Want to learn more?