Why we should all be recycling green waste
In Australia, around a third of landfill waste bins routinely contain recyclables or green waste. State Government's around the country are focusing on increasing our plastic, aluminium and glass recycling via implementation of new container deposit schemes, but what is being done to support green waste recycling?
Recycling legislation in Australia is decided by state governments. However, when it comes to bin collections, this is often decided by local councils. This means some states and territories have programs in place such as container deposit schemes, and some suburbs don’t even have access to any kerbside green waste recycling options. Further, what can and can't go into our kerbside green waste bins changes across the country which increases the confusion and arguably, reduces the potential green waste being recycled.
What is ‘green waste’?
Green waste is essentially waste that is biodegradable. Biodegradable waste can be defined as any waste consisting of organic materials, which can be broken down by natural processes. This waste can be broken down naturally by bacteria, which feed on the organic material i.e. material that was once living, and the end product is compost.
However, it is important to note that there are different rules in each state in Australia regarding what you can and can’t deposit in the 'green bin'. Below we take a look at the standard rules for each state. Please note, some councils may offer different services so please double check your rules with your local council.
Australian Capital Territory
The ACT has an opt-in program for residents to elect to purchase a green waste bin. The program has now been rolled out across most of the Territory. The fee is a once-off $50 cost which includes fortnightly collections.
Contents allowed in the bin are limited to:
- garden prunings
- grass clippings
- small branches (no longer than 45cm and a diameter of 10cm)
Food waste and animal waste are not included.
Visit: https://www.tccs.act.gov.au/recycling-and-waste/collection/green-bin-program for more details.
New South Wales
The government estimated that almost half of household waste destined for NSW landfills consists of food and garden organic waste.
NSW is currently undergoing a transition to organic recycling bins, so it’s best to check your local council website to see what and how you can recycle. Almost 70% of NSW households now have access to organics recycling.
The government is highly focused on reducing food waste and has established the Love Food Hate Waste campaign to drive change. The program also offers grants for households and businesses and you can find out more here: https://www.lovefoodhatewaste.nsw.gov.au/partners/grant-funding
NT does not have a green bin system established, however, the Territory does offer options for recycling your own green waste which you can view here: https://www.darwin.nt.gov.au/live/waste-recycling/household-waste/green-waste
Queensland offers a range of different services and options for residents. The most common option is an opt-in paid scheme by individual councils. Residents can purchase green waste bins (as well as pick up services in some cases) via their individual council websites. In most cases, the green bins in Queensland do not include food wastage or anything outside of garden clippings. To find out more, visit your local council website.
In South Australia, all residents have access to an organic green bin which allows residents to recycle a range of organic goods including:
- Small prunings and cuttings
- Small branches (up to 10cm thick)
- Lawn clippings
- Cut flowers
- Pet poo (never in plastic bags)
- Shredded paper
- Paper towel and tissues
- Pizza boxes
- All fruit & vegetable scraps
- All food, including bread and dairy products
- Teabags & coffee grounds
- Seafood, meat and bones (cooked or raw)
- Egg shells, seafood shells and nut shells
Find out more visit: https://www.recycleright.sa.gov.au/how-to-recycle
In Tasmania, the City of Hobart offers all residents a green bin for green waste, however, this is limited to garden clippings.  Across Tasmania, green waste collection varies dramatically, with other cities (such as Launceston) offering voluntary food and organic collection for a fee. Like many other states, the rules vary between different councils so please check your local council website for more details.
Victoria green waste varies greatly between councils. The state does not currently offer all residents green waste bin collections. (In fact, their green lid bin is for standard garbage.) However, some local councils off green bins for residents and other local councils offer green waste collections, so it is worth checking with your local council to see what is on offer.
WA is currently transitioning to a three-bin system with red, yellow and green lids. The three-bin system commenced in 2016 and is being rolled out over four years (2016-2019). The system is calling the bins the ‘lime green lid' bins. In some council areas, residents did have a green waste bin, but the items were restricted to gardening clippings. The aim will be by 2019 for all residents to have an organic bin which will be able to collect all organic waste materials (the same as South Australia’s system).
Where does green waste go when it’s recycled?
Each region in Australia has it’s own services for processing organic and green waste, however, all green waste ends back up as compost which is used for farms, parks and gardens.
Why is green recycling important?
16.5Million tonnes of C02e (Carbon Dioxide equivalent) are released each year from food waste and 5.3Million tonnes of food ends up in landfill each year. Depositing green waste correctly has a wide range of benefits for homeowners, councils and the greater environment. The below list includes just some of the benefits of recycling green waste.
- Recycling green waste will reduce our landfills: Whilst this may appear fine, as its biodegradable, organic matter that is thrown in landfill rather than composted correctly will emit a great deal of methane as it breaks down. Methane is known to contribute to atmospheric damage and global warming and therefore the more green waste that goes to landfill the more we impact on our environment.
- Recycling green waste can save households money on grocery bills: The NSW Food Smart Program is educating household on how to reduce food waste by using up more leftovers; resulting in reduced food purchases.
- Compost supports the eco-system, reducing the need for pesticides and results in growing better crops: composted green waste can help improve the nutrient retaining properties in the soil, encourage plants to develop deeper root systems, and reduce the need for pesticides and synthetic fertilisers.
If your local council doesn’t offer green waste recycling services, you can always implement a compost system at home. For more information, please visit the Compost Solution to see how you can start your own green waste recycling today: https://compostrevolution.com.au/
About Container Deposit Systems
Container Deposit Systems was formed with a vision to oversee the implementation of improved operational practices in recycling facilities. The company offers a range of services to recycling depot facilities to drive productivity improvements and transition traditional recycling facilities into modern technically advanced operators.
The company achieve this through patented technologies which deliver manufacturing automation to auto-sort materials via a highly sensitive multi-sensor integration. Systems integrations enable facilities to further gain efficiencies through workflows, materials handling, logistic processes, facility layout and design, customer interaction and data acquisition and management.
Container Deposit Systems technologies are designed and manufactured in Australia with local partners Sage Automation and Macweld Engineering.
For more information, please contact us directly.