All go, go for FOGO? Well, yes, yes and no, no

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Carol Altmann – The Terrier

The Warrnambool City Council’s new organic waste collection is a terrific move, but it could take a year or more before the service actually reaches your street.

Until this week, I didn’t know that the new service – best known as FOGO – could take up to three years to roll out fully across Warrnambool. Did you?

Let me explain.

As has been well publicised, the council ran a pilot of the FOGO service with about 1700 householders in the first half of this year and it was wildly successful. No surprises there; we are a green-minded city.

Buoyed by this success, the council decided several months ago to roll out the service to everyone and I, like most others, couldn’t wait to get that extra bin so organics could be sent off to be composted, rather than dumped in landfill.

In the meantime, the council sent out its 2018/19 rates notices which included a $69 increase in the waste management fee, up from $287 to $356 per household.

As then-Mayor Robert Anderson explained, the sharp increase “covers the rollout of a Food Organics, Garden Organics (FOGO) collection service and also the increase in cost to process recyclable materials”.

Coming to a kitchen near you – the FOGO rollout includes delivering kitchen caddies and bin liners to each home, like these recently delivered to residents at the Mill.

But this is where things get confusing: just because you are now paying $356 for your rubbish collection doesn’t mean you will get the FOGO service immediately.

It could take months and possibly even years, depending on where you live in Warrnambool.

The council hopes it won’t take that long, of course, but in July this year it flagged that the full roll out across nine pick-up areas, each of about 1600 bins, could take up to three years.

 

I must admit that I missed that memo and, like others, was wondering why I still hadn’t got my FOGO bin?

Just last week the council announced the winning tenders for picking up the organics, processing it and composting it, with all of these contracts to start from July next year.

So the situation for now is that some Warrnambool residents already have FOGO, some Warrnambool residents are getting FOGO as we speak, and others, like my little household, are waiting to find out when it will arrive.

Green bins are on the march in councils around Australia, like Richmond Valley (pictured).

One astute reader asked me earlier this week whether a council can legally charge all ratepayers for a waste collection service that is only being used by some.

It is a good question, but the answer is yes, because, as the council points out, it is still collecting all of your rubbish – including organics that are now going into landfill via our normal old rubbish bins – and this all costs money.

“The FOGO component is allowing us to progressively roll out the FOGO collection which means that we will transition out of collecting (organics) in rubbish bins and move towards the separate collection of (organics), which will then be processed into compost,” council spokesman Nick Higgins said via email.

“While it may have been seen as preferable to roll out a complete FOGO service simultaneously across the city there were practical challenges with doing this,” he said.

Mr Higgins said the council was keen to get things moving as fast as it can and had applied for funds to help speed up the process.

“Council has applied for a grant to assist with the rollout of the dedicated FOGO collection and it is hoped that the full rollout of FOGO across Warrnambool will occur quickly,” he said.

What this all means is that, for the time being, FOGO is slow-go, but we are at least making a start on reducing the 3000 tonnes of food and other organics that are now being dumped into landfill.

Keep the Terrier typing!

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5 thoughts on “All go, go for FOGO? Well, yes, yes and no, no”

  1. Can people who reliably and sustainably dispose of their organic matter opt out or forgo fogo and the increased rates levy do you know Carol?

    1. I am not sure of what the WCC plans to do around this, but other councils allow people to opt out if they supply a stat dec saying they compost their own organics or can prove via a site inspection that they have a composting system in place. I have always thought people who already do this should be rewarded in some way. It is tricky to know how it would be “policed”, but I am all for incentives (ie, you put less in your bin, you pay less for collection) rather than disincentives.

  2. So effectively they are justifying that they can charge for the service as they are picking up the “compostable” waste anyway.. so should I put two bins of waste out for collection until our fogo bin arrives??

  3. So the council charge us to pick-up and decompose our organic waste – so when do we pick-up the mature compost at no extra charge?

  4. Sorry but I’m unable to understand this . I’m paying for something that I’m not receiving at the moment, yes the current bins are collected . I’m happy to have the waste composted but I’m not happy about paying for something I’m not receiving. Another bin and collection , at night. This is also against EPA rules , but it is the WCC.
    Independent umpire please!

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