As the WA Government moves forward with plans to help introduce a three-bin system to all metropolitan areas by 2025, one regional town has stepped up to show other councils how it’s done.
- Bunbury leads the way as WA moves slowly towards a better system for recycling its waste
- The Bunbury recycling facility runs tours to share its knowledge with councils from all over Australia
- WA’ recycling rates are among the worst in Australia
In a recent Waste Avoidance Strategy, the WA Government backed plans to help all Perth councils introduce a bin for food and garden organics (also known as a FOGO bin) by 2025 and lift the state’s recycling rates to 75 per cent.
WA has one of the worst recycling rates in the country and currently in Perth just 36 per cent of household waste is being recycled.
Chairman of the WA Waste Authority, Marcus Geisler, said that was cause for concern.
“What’s needed now is a radical change, a radical change in behaviour, and a radical change in collection systems,” he said.
“If we keep doing what we’re doing today, we cannot expect a different outcome tomorrow.”
A FOGO bin system has been in place in Bunbury since 2013. (ABC South West: Jacqueline Lynch)
Bunbury bucking the trend
In Bunbury, in the state’s South West, recycling is a different story.
The City of Bunbury was the first WA council to introduce a FOGO bin back in 2013.
Head of the Bunbury Harvey Regional Council, Tony Battersby, said it had made a huge difference.
“It was sitting around 24 per cent diversion [away from landfill] and I think the city has got it up as high as 67 per cent,” he said.
“In the City of Bunbury’s case it was 6,000 tonnes a year diverted away from landfill.
“[We] would be well and truly leading the state at the moment.”
In Bunbury and some surrounding towns the organic waste is turned into compost and spread over gardens and lawns.
The compost is also sold to local farmers, which Mr Battersby said made the system basically cost-neutral for ratepayers.
Mr Geisler agreed that Bunbury was leading the state in recycling and said the city was proof that the State Government’s plan would help increase recycling rates in Perth.
“Bunbury led by example and other local governments should look at that and be envious of that,” he said.
Diversion rates in Bunbury have climbed as high as 67 per cent since it started collecting food and garden organics. (ABC South West: Jacqueline Lynch)
Perth councils ‘catching up’
While many Perth areas already have a bin for garden organics, some councils, including the City of Stirling in Perth’s north, were considering following in Bunbury’s footsteps.
In 2017, the City of Melville launched a trial of the FOGO bin.
In the wake of the 2030 Waste Strategy, many people are looking to the South West for advice.
The East Metropolitan Regional Council (EMRC), which represents six local governments in Perth, is looking at putting a food organics facility in Red Hill in the City of Swan.
EMRC chairman David McDonnell said it was looking at replicating the South West system in at least two of its member councils over the next 18 months.
“We had started the process of a FOGO facility, the initial discussions, the Waste Strategy now kicks us right in the bum and says ‘let’s go for this, we need to move quick’,” he said.
“We’re looking forward to catching up to what [Bunbury] is doing.”
The Bunbury facility runs almost weekly tours to share its knowledge with councils from all over Australia.
Other Australian councils are looking to Bunbury to learn how to implement the FOGO system. (ABC South West: Jacqueline Lynch)