Canberrans could see their food waste recycled and turned into compost under a re-elected ACT Labor Government. City Services Minister Chris Steel said the food waste collection scheme would see a new in-vessel composting facility take food and garden waste from Canberra’s existing green waste bins and turn it into a compost product, which will then be sold onto the compost market.
The 50% of Canberra households without a green waste bin would receive one, while every household would be issued a free kitchen caddy to collect food scraps.
“We want all Canberra households to participate in this scheme so we can get the full benefit of reducing emissions but also making sure that we’ve got a much more efficient collection service as well,” Mr Steel said.
The Canberra Liberals have expressed support for the scheme and have criticised Labor for not implementing it with the initial roll out of the green waste bins.
Shadow Environment Minister Elizabeth Lee said the Canberra Liberals want to see the service available to every Canberra household, and said there was “no reason that we would not adopt it in the same way if we were in government”.
Labor has promised a pilot program of 5,000 households, including apartments and townhouses, would begin in 2021, with the scheme to be fully operational by 2023 once the construction of the new composting facility is complete.
Mr Steel said the construction of the composting facility would cost $30 million, while the collection scheme itself would cost around $12.5 million. The service would be free for all Canberra households, and Mr Steel said it would be funded through consolidated revenue to be outlined before the election.
The scheme is expected to create around 200 jobs in construction and collection.
The ACT Greens have backed the announcement but have also called on the ACT Government to expand the food waste collection scheme to include the commercial and hospitality sectors.
The Greens’ waste spokesperson Caroline Le Couteur said household scraps only form part of the problem. “We also need to tackle the massive issue of commercial food waste,” she said.
“Any system designed in the Territory also needs to ensure that commercial outlets are part of the scheme.”
Chief Minister Andrew Barr said 37% of ACT residential garbage bin contents are food waste, which is currently sent to landfill. He said the new scheme could see the ACT’s emissions from the waste sector reduced by around 30%.