Valuing our food waste: SA’s household food waste recycling pilot (2010)

Valuing our food waste: SA’s household food waste recycling pilot (2010)
  • Archive (pre-2016)

Valuing our food waste: SA’s household food waste recycling pilot (2010)

The provision and use by householders of kitchen-based collection containers can significantly increase the diversion of food waste from landfill.  Community support for food waste collection and  participation rates was high.  Overall, the suitability of collected food waste for composting was generally high as demonstrated by the low contamination rates.  There were negligible differences in the concentration of odour from the garden organics bins containing food and weekly-collected rubbish bins containing food.  

Of the two different bench top containers tested in the pilot, the ventilated and corn starch bag lined bio basket, and the unlined kitchen caddy, the best diversion performance was achieved using the bio basket. The bio basket with fortnightly rubbish collection achieved 54.5 per cent food waste diversion compared to 9.31 percent for the unlined caddy.  Slightly more householders found the bio basket easier to use than the kitchen caddy system.  Significantly more bio basket users continued to participate during the pilot than caddy users.  

The collection of food waste does not appear to pose any additional problems to waste collection services as part of a council wide system.  The attractiveness of the bio basket system comes at an extra, albeit modest cost, to purchase compostable liner bags, and some householders may be reluctant to pay.

The pilot has reinforced the importance of councils mounting a professionally managed community education campaign. Further attention needs to be given to messages about the different types of food waste which can be recycled.  Taking into account the market research and anecdotal comments, councils intending to introduce food waste recycling programs should consider:  including educational messages on the corn starch bags to avoid mishaps such as bags splitting en route to the waste bin - talking to the composting company that will receive the food waste to identify the preferred type of liner and noting that claims of composability by the liner manufacturer need to meet Australian standards and be able to be validated - providing simple ongoing communication to householders to increase participation, maximise the capture of waste and minimise contamination because feedback to residents about the pilot’s progress will help to maintain engagement and participation offering a range of sizes for the bio basket to enhance convenience and householder commitment, an issue that emerged from informal discussions with users. 

Green Industries SA, in consultation with councils and waste service providers, will undertake further work on ways to improve the convenience of garden and food waste collection bins and access for waste collection services in multi-unit dwellings.