Food scrap recycling
Most people tend not to think of food scraps as having an adverse impact on the environment because it is biodegradable. However, most food scraps end up in landfill where they create methane, a greenhouse gas with 21 times the warming potential of carbon dioxide (CO2). Wasted food also wastes the energy, water, money and resources used to produce, process, store and transport the food.
South Australian councils are increasingly offering food scrap recycling to householders following the successful completion of a pilot project in 2010 which involved 17,000 households across 10 councils. In the pilot, householders placed all kitchen scraps – including dairy and meat scraps - in bench-top containers which were then placed in the garden organics bin for fortnightly collection. Household satisfaction surveys showed strong support for food scrap recycling – whether by using a bench top container system and/or combined with home composting.
Can I recycle my food scraps using my green organics bin?
All metropolitan councils with the exception of Onkaparinga and the regional councils of Whyalla, Light Regional, Gawler, Loxton Waikerie and Wattle Range residents can now recycle their food scraps in their green organics bin.
Each council offers slightly different services to help residents participate, but in all cases you can put your food scraps into your green organics bin:
- wrapped in newspaper, or
- in a compostable bag (may be supplied by your council).
I participated in the food waste pilot, can I continue to use the bench-top system?
Residents in councils which participated in the food waste recycling pilot can continue to recycle their food scraps using the bench-top system. Just remember to use the correct compostable bags if you are using the ventilated basket. For example:
- Campbelltown, Mallala, Light Regional and Whyalla, Councils are continuing to provide these bags free of charge to pilot residents. Visit the council to pick up these bags.
- Norwood St Peters Payneham, Prospect , Burnside and Port Adelaide Enfield Councils provide a free caddy to all residents and deliver a roll of bags to residents each year as a part of their waste management services.
- West Torrens and Charles Sturt Councils will also provide bags and caddies as one option for residents in a new program which also offers rebates for compost bins and worm farms.
- Marion Council offers residents a free caddy and roll of compostable bags
- Unley Council will provide residents with a caddy and roll of compostable bags for $10
- Salisbury, Playford and Gawler Councils provide residents with a caddy. Contact NAWMA for details on collecting your container.
- Adelaide City, Mitcham, Tea Tree Gully, Campbelltown, Holdfast Bay and Walkerville do not provide caddies or compostable bags to residents but do encourage placing food scraps either loose or wrapped in newspaper into the green organics bin.
This information will be updated as councils introduce the food waste recycling service, in some cases with the assistance of Zero Waste SA's Kerbside Performance Plus (Food Waste Incentives) program.
Who does this system best suit?
Anyone - from people living in units to large homes, with gardens or without. Even home composters may wish to use their green organics bin to dispose of organic waste not included in their backyard compost bin.
What can go into the garden organics bin?
Anything that once grew can be put in your green organics bin for composting. So remember, if it grows, then it goes in your green organics bin! This includes garden organics and food scraps including:
- lawn clippings, prunings, small branches, twigs, leaves and weeds
- fruit and vegetable scraps, cake, takeaway foods, bread, teabags and coffee grounds
- meat scraps, bones (cooked and raw), eggshells, oyster shells and seafood
- pizza boxes, shredded paper, tissues and paper towels
- cheese and yoghurt
- and even hair
Just make sure you keep plastics and other inorganic waste out of your green organics bin. Plastic bags are not compostable - avoid them, or put them in your rubbish bin. Only compostable bags should go in compost.
How can I reduce odours?
You can freeze potentially smelly scraps in the fridge until your green organics collection day.
Placing green organic material, such as leaves, shredded paper and lawn clippings, on top of food in the green organics bin will decrease odours significantly.
Where can I buy the compostable bags?
Due to the bulk buying power of councils you are best getting the biodegradable bags supplied through your council. However, you can also find biodegradable bags at retailers including some Drakes supermarkets, Bunnings and specialist 'eco' stores. Please ensure that the bags are truly compostable. Many bags marked as being 'biodegradable' do not in fact compost.
Never use 'ordinary' plastic bags as these will not break down in the composting process.
Wrapping scraps in newspaper is another option as newspaper is fully compostable.