Thumbs up to an expanded garden waste bin service

Sunshine Coast residents have spoken loudly and clearly: they want to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and have given the green thumbs up for an opt-out garden waste bin service so they can do their bit for our environment.

Community feedback from more than 7,500 residents revealed overwhelming support for the garden waste bin service which will be expanded to households across the Sunshine Coast from July 2022 to create a cleaner, greener environment.

Sunshine Coast Council gave the green tick of approval to the project at today’s (July 22), Ordinary Meeting.

Garden clippings, weeds and leaves will be diverted from our landfills, extending their life, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and potentially saving property owners paying the full cost of the Queensland Government Waste Levy.

Almost 30 per cent of households already use the garden bin service. With an increased number of collections, garden bin costs will come down for current and new users from July 2022.

Sunshine Coast Council Service Delivery Portfolio Councillor Christian Dickson said the community feedback on recycling and how we should mange waste in the future was vital in council’s decision-making process. 

“Our community feedback made it very clear that diverting organic waste from landfill and protecting our environment are very important to our community,” Cr Dickson said.

“Results from the online survey revealed 84 per cent of respondents agreed it was very important for council to provide a service to reduce organic waste in landfill and convert recovered organic material to useful by-products.

“When asked about a garden waste bin, 74 per cent of respondents supported an opt-out garden waste service be rolled out region-wide, because it was good for our community and the environment.

“The feedback also revealed 83 per cent of survey respondents supported council implementing a Food Organics and Garden Organics (FOGO) bin service, which is something council will continue to investigate.”

Service Portfolio Holder Cr Winston Johnston said the expanded garden waste bin service delivered on the Sunshine Coast Waste Strategy 2015-2025 which includes council’s aim to provide a circular economy for waste.

“Council, and Commonwealth and State governments have established waste strategies and policies which both contain targets to divert waste from landfill,” Cr Johnston said. 

“Our target is to divert 55 per cent of household waste from landfill by 2025.

“We are currently diverting 37 per cent, however if each household has a garden waste bin, it is forecast that our region will move to 42 per cent.

“This makes a big difference due to the cumulative effect of waste going into landfill. It will extend our landfill life and if transitioned to a FOGO service, will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by over one million CO2e tonnes over the next 30 to 50 years.

“This is important because it takes that long for waste to break down – so it’s not just what you put into it today, it’s the impact of the emissions generated for the next half-century.

“In reverse, there is a cumulative benefit. Reduce landfill waste today and we benefit for the next 30–50 years and beyond.”

Cr Johnston said with less waste going to landfill, it may also mean households would pay less for the Queensland Government Waste Levy next year.

“At the moment, the Queensland Government reimburses council for the State Waste Levy of $85 per tonne, however there is no guarantee that will continue after 1 July 2022, meaning households could be faced with an extra $61.88 cost to dispose their rubbish.

“Introducing a garden waste service will see more waste diverted from landfill, potentially reducing the levy costs.

“In addition to reducing fees to all ratepayers, this is an important first step on the journey to transitioning this third green bin to a Food Organics and Garden Organics collection service to put us on the road to becoming a circular economy.

“If council decides to introduce a FOGO service, our community will be one of the first in Queensland to adopt it and benefit, joining more than 100 councils across Australia.

“Collection costs for the third bin will decrease even further because again, we are diverting more waste from landfill, while reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

“That’s a win: win for our environment and our residents.

“We will continue achieving our vision: Australia’s most sustainable region, healthy, smart, creative.”

Group Executive Customer Engagement and Planning Services James Ruprai said a garden waste service was just one of the ways council was moving towards circular economy approach to waste management.

“Council’s goal is for a zero waste to landfill through a circular approach where products and materials keep circulating in the economy for as long as possible,” Mr Ruprai said.

“We are reviewing expressions of interest submitted by industry for Alternative Waste Treatment options, to harness the potential value of resources which have traditionally been discarded into landfill – this has given us a good insight into the types of facilities available to process our organic waste in the future.

“This year, we start work on a new Materials Recovery Facility or MRF at Nambour.

“The new MRF will be a state-of-the-art-facility with better optical sorting capacity and more capabilities meaning that more types of product could potentially be recycled, and the quality of the recycled material will improve.

“Earlier this year we opened the Caloundra Renewable Energy Facility, capturing the gas from landfill and turning it into electricity.

“The Automated Waste Collection System in Maroochydore City began operation, diverting more waste from landfill, reducing trucks on the road and further reducing carbon emissions.

“We partner with our community to reduce the amount of waste going to landfill through projects like ASPIRE market place, Living Smart, and ongoing recycling education.

“And we were the first local government in Australia to offset 100 per cent of its electricity consumption with renewable energy through the Sunshine Coast Solar Farm.”

Council will keep residents informed of planned changes which won’t start until July 2022. 

Some properties will be exempt from an expanded garden bin service; however, the conditions of exemption are yet to be finalised.

The further information on the results from the Our Future Waste consultation are available on council’s Have your Say page at https://haveyoursay.sunshinecoast.qld.gov.au/our-future-waste

For more information on the expanded garden waste bin service please visit council’s website https://www.sunshinecoast.qld.gov.au/Living-and-Community/Waste-and-Recycling/Bin-Collection-Services/Garden-Waste-Bin-Collection/Frequently-asked-questions.

Sustainable living tips are available at livingsmartqld.com.au.

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