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HomeIssue 15Council green waste: Operation successful but patient critical

Council green waste: Operation successful but patient critical

By OSCAR PERRI

Alice Springs Town Council will not be looking further into saving green waste from being dumped in landfill until council pens a new Climate Action Plan in 2022.

The Food Organics and Garden Organics (FOGO) collection scheme was scrapped earlier this year after the program trial was reviewed by council.

Green waste bins were offered up to 200 households across 16 streets chosen across town to provide a broad demographic of the community, but these residents had to opt in to take part in the trial, 86 of whom did. Council says that this relatively low number is one reason for the program not being progressed further.

The report to council following the conclusion on the trial found that with just this small number of participants, 62 tonnes greenhouse gas emissions were saved from reaching the atmosphere, and all of the trial’s objectives were met.

It noted that due to the decision to require trial participants to opt-in mostly members of the community who were already proactive about waste reduction took it up.

Despite this the report concluded that “the community is generally highly receptive to a FOGO service” and “food waste avoidance and diversion from landfill remain key priorities”.

The report says that further investment in staff and machinery are necessary to expand the program, as well as an improvement in communications with the public.

The trial used up the entire $250,000 budget of the current Climate Action Plan.

“With up to 38% of residents’ general kerbside waste being food organics/garden organics, this is ‘low hanging fruit’ as far as waste reduction goes,” said council CEO Robert Jennings at the beginning of the trial.

All of 42 participants responding to a survey of the trial gave support for it to be expanded across Alice.

Mayor Damien Ryan recently told ABC radio that it was “not viable” to continue the scheme beyond the trial.

At this week’s general council meeting, Cr Marli Banks expressed concern at how council’s response was being perceived.

“We haven’t shut the door on FOGO. It’s been a bit lost in translation that, although it engaged well and the results were positive, the financial feasibility requires some work in regards to how to afford and which direction to go with it,” she later said.

“Ideally, it would roll straight into something immediately, but that hasn’t been the case.

“There is a lot of public interest in recycling and that we shouldn’t lose that intent of the community.”

PHOTO: “A free residential green waste program received more weeds and brush in one weekend than similar programs garnered over the past six years. One reason: a concerted effort to rally the community and spread the word.”

That is an online message from the Fire Safe Council, a non-profit, local volunteer organisation, “dedicated to making Nevada County safer from catastrophic wildfire through fire safety projects and education for Nevada County residents”.

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