While residents in the Australian state of New South Wales are recycling more, the overall amount of waste being generated is increasing – a common problem around the world given population increases and hyper-consumerism.
In that state, the overall amount of waste generated jumped from 11.8 million tonnes in 2002–03 to 17.1 million tonnes in 2010–11.
A review carried out on garbage in the state found half the contents of the average household garbage bin consists of food waste and garden organics.
Food waste equivalent to the volume of an Olympic swimming pool is being generated every 9 hours in the state.
Households in NSW spend on average $1,036 a year on food that is wasted – and it’s a similar story in many states and provinces in developed nations.
The New South Wales government has just announced its “Waste Less, Recycle More” initiative; a $465.7 million package that over 5 years will transform waste and recycling.
One of the initiatives is the creation of drop-off points for food and garden waste; services which I believe will be free.
This is a great idea.
A few years back I had to get rid of a dead tree in the yard. We have green (non-food) waste bins that are collected every fortnight; but I could have filled a dozen of the bins with the remnants of the tree and would have had a heck of a time chopping it up into bits that would fit. So I cut it up, crammed it into my van and took it to the tip as I knew it had a green waste section.
I was then charged $50 for the privilege of giving the local council the waste, which they then turn into mulch and either sell or use around the area.
It’s situations like this that contribute to the amount of illegal dumping of garden waste; which doesn’t benefit anyone.
Food and green waste isn’t garbage; it can be turned into gardening gold or even energy. People need to be encouraged to put these waste materials aside for proper recycling and not be charged an arm and a leg when they do so.
However, prevention being better than cure, as part of the NSW initiative, food waste avoidance and reuse education projects will also be established.
You can read more about the Waste Less, Recycle More initiative here (PDF).
I had never heard of community composting schemes until today; but on searching via Google, I see there are quite a few projects popping up around the world. They aren’t always government-run; some are implemented by neighbours in a street banding together who supply the waste to others who can use it.