Planning the rollout of FOGO bins

Planning the rollout of FOGO bins

Andrew Hedge 07 May, 2020

If you’re in waste management at a local council that hasn’t yet introduced FOGO bins, this blog offers some suggestions for planning the transition. Specifically, it explains how to find the number of households in your area that may be of a size or type that may need extra support to manage the transition to a new waste collection cycle.

This blog is rubbish, but it’s a good news story.

There’s a terrific new initiative that’s being rolled out via councils across Australia – the Food Organics and Garden Organics, or FOGO, bins. If you haven’t heard of them yet, there was a great feature on Gardening Australia last week, giving a behind-the-scenes look at the FOGO scheme.

Our work to help councils make informed decisions goes well beyond the ‘three R’s’ – Rubbish, Roads and Rates – we know councils deliver many important services beyond those. However the weekly (or fortnightly) bin collection is one of those services that everyone notices when it does – and doesn’t – happen!

The FOGO scheme is being introduced to reduce the amount of food and organic waste that goes to landfill, and instead turn it into beautiful compost that can be used to improve our soil’s ability to retain water, grow healthy plants and sequester carbon. Win-win-win-win.

I’d set up a couple of compost bins at our place before we’d finished unpacking boxes, so I’ve had a good home for veggie scraps and coffee grounds for a while. However, even for us, I’ve found the FOGO bin has significantly cut down the amount of household waste that’s ending up in our general waste bin. Because we can FOGO (I reckon it’s good enough to be a verb) things like tissues, paper towels, meat scraps and leftover food, the FOGO component of our collection really adds up.

Sunday night is bin night at our place, so last week I was incredulous when there was still a full general waste bin on my kerb at 5pm Monday night. Then I remembered – as proud owners of a shiny new FOGO bin, our general waste collections are now fortnightly, rather than weekly. That’s the trade-off.

So far, it’s working for us – the reduction in organic waste going into landfill means we can just make our little 80L bin stretch the fortnight. However, it’s tight – so I called the council to understand our options. They explained they’d expected that some households may find changes to their weekly general waste collection a challenge, such as elderly people and larger households.

Understanding the composition of households in your LGA

As I was speaking with the council, it occurred to me this is a great example of how our local community profiles can be used to inform planning and decision making at council. In this case, the waste management planning team at my council can (and hopefully did!) use our community profiles to understand the composition of households in our local government area. Knowing that some household types would find the transition harder than others, it could help them understand what percentage of households in each neighbourhood would fall into these categories, and make provisions for extra support accordingly.

If you’re in waste management at a local council that is yet to introduce a FOGO bin for your residents, check out the average household size page on your community profile. It will show you how many households of 4+, 5+ 6+ persons there are in each of your suburbs/small areas within your LGA. The social atlas tool shows how lone person households, group households and couples with children are distributed throughout different neighbourhoods.

Hopefully, understanding the household composition in different neighbourhoods will help you make the case for FOGO bins in your council, and help you plan the rollout and communication strategy to ensure everyone is on board.

Appreciation for the community builders

As a footnote, I’ve been super impressed at how my local council have introduced this initiative in the community. There has been lots of communication over the last few months to bring the everyone on board with the idea and make the case for the change. In this month’s newsletter, Ivan described local government as the community building tier of government. The leadership shown in schemes like this are a great example of what he’s talking about.

Also published on Medium.

Andrew Hedge

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