More waste diverted from landfill – a success story from our community

At last night’s Council meeting the community were congratulated for diverting 40% of waste away from landfill following the first six months of changes to the waste collection service.
 The changes to Council’s waste service came following the introduction of the Victorian Circular Economy (Waste Reduction and Recycling) Act 2021 which stated that councils must provide services for collection of general rubbish, recycling, food and garden organics, and separate glass before 2030.
Changes to the waste and recycling system were introduced in October 2023 which resulted in a fortnightly rubbish collection which goes to landfill, an introduction of a weekly FOGO system for food and organic waste with recycling remaining fortnightly.
Deputy Mayor Councillor David Eastham said the release of the six-month review figures has shown that the new changes are working for the broader community and helping to meet our environmental goals.
“The results have shown a massive 40% reduction in the amount of waste sent to landfill. This means that more than 3,127 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions have been avoided thanks to the huge efforts of our community – who must be congratulated for taking on the change so well.
“We know that overall, people want to do what’s right for the environment and by using the new waste system that’s exactly what people are doing. Our contamination rate within the FOGO bins is at 0.49% which is an amazing achievement and has meant that an additional 9,037 tonnes of organic material have been composted into usable products.”
The six-month review included:
  • an audit of residential bins to identify how many are overflowing (bins slightly ajar or fully open with contents strewn around the bin)
  • an audit of street litter bins to identify any dumping or changes in volume
  • an audit of dumped rubbish reports to identify if there has been an increase
  • review of customer feedback and calls throughout the six months
  • a measurement of the amount of organic/recycling waste being diverted from landfill.
Of the 65,675 bins collected:
  • 417 had lids slightly ajar – (0.63%)
  • 569 were overfull – (0.87%)
This shows a total of 1.5% of all rubbish bins being collected could be considered overfilled.
Councillor Eastham said, “During the changes we heard from lots of people who were dissatisfied and believed they would struggle with these new changes, however these results show that many people have been able to embrace and excel at these changes.
“And this is important not only because councils need to meet the State governments guidelines, but because we must reduce the amount of waste that goes to landfill.
“Another concern of the community and Council was that street litter bins or illegal dumping would increase, and we’re pleased to report that this has not been the case.
“We understand that there will still be pockets within the community who may be struggling with these changes. There are options available for people who still find the fortnightly rubbish collection a challenge, which includes additional bins and we ask that they contact our Customer Experience Team.”
The State government is currently holding consultation in relation to proposed new service standards which include whether people can opt-out of the FOGO service. While that consultation is in place, Council will continue not providing an opt out service.
Councillor Eastham said, “Opting out of FOGO is a challenge. We have targets that need to be met to reduce our landfill and this means removing all types of food from landfill. If changes are made to the FOGO services in the future, there will be financial implications which we will need to work out.
“Part of our resident’s waste charges includes a portion of the cost per tonne of sending rubbish to landfill. This includes the EPA Landfill Levy which is currently $129.27 per tonne this financial year and due to increase to $167.90 per tonne next financial year.
“Our contamination rates are currently low, and we keep this low and recover and recycle as much waste into a reusable product that we can.  When organics or recycling is contaminated the cost for all of us increases.”
Council also heard that medical waste, nappies and soft plastic was a concern for residents. A service has now been provided to residents with medical needs for increased rubbish. To enquire about this service please contact Council on 1300 368 333.
There are about 1,825 new births in Yarra Ranges each year and many families use disposable nappies (Census 2021). Council encourages families to consider reusable nappy products or to investigate private disposable nappy services. People who need extra rubbish bins are asked to contact Council on 1300 368 333 to enquire about bin sizes or additional bins. There are costs associated with these services as it does not impact all ratepayers.
Council is aware that State and Federal governments have been working with industry and supermarkets on a national solution to soft plastics recycling, including larger scale recycling and ensuring sustainable markets for the end products. There is currently a trial underway, and we hope that more information will be available soon on possible viable options for all Melbourne residents.
Further engagement will now take place with non-residential users who can contact Council to enquire about the different bin sizes that are available now while the engagement takes place.
Council is currently working with our contractors to see what bin size options are available for non-residential users.
Councillor Eastham said, “We understand that these changes have been challenging and we know that some people were very unhappy at the start of the process. However the results from the data collected across the municipality shows that for most, it has not only been achievable it has been a success.”