The ACT government hopes a trial service for home owners to send their food scraps to a compost heap instead of landfill will prove a model to significantly reduce the amount of waste sent to the tip in Canberra.
City Services Minister Chris Steel said the trial would provide participating households with an "everyday climate choice" by offering a small bench-top bin to collect food scraps in the house and a weekly kerb-side organics bin collection.
"We think that by collecting this material in the lime-green-lidded bins and turning it into compost, we can help reduce the amount of emissions that are coming off our landfill by up to 30 per cent. So it's going to make a real contribution to the fight on climate change. But it's also going to provide better services for Canberrans," he said.
The trial will cover 5000 households in Belconnen, Bruce, Cook and Macquarie, an area Mr Steel said would capture dwelling types across single-residential houses and large apartment complexes.
Cook resident Clinton Cashen, who is participating in the trial, said he had already been surprised by the amount of food scraps previously going to landfill from his family home.
"We're keen gardeners. We try and compost but we simply can't keep up, so we're really excited to be part of the trial, to be part of the pilot, to give our garden waste and our kitchen waste to the professionals to be able to convert it into gold," Mr Cashen said.
In a report on emissions reduction tabled in the Legislative Assembly a fortnight ago, the Commissioner for Sustainability and the Environment recommended the ACT government adopt a 50 per cent food waste reduction by 2030 target, with a consistent methodology to track progress.
Food organics make up 37 per cent of household waste in the ACT, and 65,000 tonnes of organic waste are sent to landfill in Canberra each year, mostly from food.
Canberrans are thought to produce more food waste per household than the national average. ACT households produce 2.97 kilograms of food waste a week, up from the national rate of 2.89 kilograms.
Mr Steel said the government wanted to remove all food organic waste from landfill where possible.
"There will be some things that are contaminated that probably shouldn't go in, from hospitality businesses. So there's a bit more work to do, particularly with businesses around this. Households are less risky. We know we can remove that material through the use of the FOGO [food organics, garden organics] bin pretty easily, and that's where we're starting," he said.
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Mr Steel said the program would encourage a circular economy for the food waste, which could be turned into a valuable, nutrient-rich compost.
"We don't want to lose these nutrients. They go into landfill at the moment. We want to make sure they actually put back into the soils, we're nourishing our soils and helping to grow the gardens across Canberra as well as agriculture in the region, whether it's on wineries, whether it's growing legumes, whatever it may be," he said.
"This is a really valuable material and we want to work with businesses and households to make sure this material is captured."
The trial will cost $2.8 million over four years, while the government also committed $700,000 in 2021-22 in the October territory budget for an environmental impact assessment and site selection work for a food and garden organics waste recovery facility.
Mr Steel on Monday said the ACT would need a larger facility to process the organic waste when the service was rolled citywide.
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