12 March 2020
The Bega Valley Shire Council has embarked on another innovative waste project in its quest to support the community in reducing the amount of food that goes to landfill.
The Council has partnered with the NSW Environment Protection Authority and local aged care facilities in a project that could reduce food waste by up to 90%. This involves trialling food waste dehydrators in two aged care facilities and a retirement village in Bega and Pambula.
Bega Valley Shire Council waste strategy coordinator, Joley Vidau said her waste team found that limited bin storage areas and the weight of FOGO (Food Organics Garden Organics) bins with large volumes of ‘wet’ food waste have prevented some sections of the community using the FOGO service.
“We have begun a one year trial this week at Imlay House, Hillgrove House and Acacia Ponds Village, to determine the effectiveness, benefits and costs of using food waste dehydrators to overcome some of these barriers,” she said.
Food waste will be processed in the dehydrators, where it goes through an automatic process of dehydration, sterilisation and volume reduction. It takes around 10 hours to complete the process.
“Although FOGO smashed initial first-year estimates, diverting around 5,000 tonnes of food and garden organics from landfill, Council knows it doesn’t work for everyone,” Mrs Vidau said.
“Residential settings such as retirement villages and aged care facilities are a big part of our community whose food waste often still goes to landfill. The Bega Valley is a popular area to retire, with 44.4% of the population over 55, so this is an important issue to address.
“Trial results will help other aged care facilities, restaurants or clubs who produce large amounts of food waste make informed decisions on using pre-processing technology to recycle this waste.
“Placing our food waste in landfill has huge environmental and financial costs, and we are doing everything we can to reduce this.”
The trial delivers recommendations from Council’s Waste Management and Resource Recovery Strategy 2018-2028, Recycling the Future.
“This is one of the initiatives to come out of our strategy to work with the community to support new and emerging processes and technologies to slow the rate at which our landfill is filling,” Mrs Vidau said.
“We hope this technology will make food waste easier to recycle for this sector of the community and make our landfill last longer.”
Every year Australia throws out $8-$10 billion worth of food, or around four million tonnes, which ends up in landfill and generates methane, a potent greenhouse gas 21 times worse than carbon dioxide.
This project is supported by the Environmental Trust as part of the NSW EPA’s Waste Less, Recycle More initiative funded from the waste levy.
Photograph: Staff at Hillgrove House being trained how to use the new food dehydrators by enrich360 CEO, Dean Turner and Council’s Waste Project Officer, Rechelle Fisher.