Are you good to FOGO?

We are excited to read the following article about another successful FOGO program, which features educational material presented to the user every time they divert food waste, courtesy of our innovative Kitchen Caddy’s inmould label. Congratulations to the Shellharbour City Council Team!

This article was published by Waste Management Review. To read other similar articles just click on this link –

Gorgeous customers with Source Separation Systems's Kitchen Caddy featuring an inmould label

Gorgeous customers with Source Separation Systems’s Kitchen Caddy featuring an inmould label

Are you good to go FOGO?
October 20, 2017 by Waste Management Review
Food and garden organics collection is proving to be a cost-effective way for councils to reduce the amount of waste to landfill, but why have so many been slow to the punch?

Influencing a community of just under 70,000 to change their behaviours was never going to be easy, but one council found the solution in a simple, yet effective catchphrase.

Are you good to go FOGO?

FOGO, which stands for food and garden organics collection services, involves councils taking those waste streams and introducing a composting operation to turn them into a nutrient-rich product. When done so safely, some local government bodies believe FOGO has significant potential to reduce the amount of food and organic waste going to landfill.

It almost took 10 years for the New South Wales’ coastal community of Shellharbour to introduce FOGO, and the council is finally reaping the rewards. The journey began with an initial survey in 2007 and concluded late last year. Thanks to a grassroots campaign, Shellharbour now operates a weekly FOGO service.

For Shellharbour City Council, the process of introducing a FOGO service required input from industry experts and councils across the nation, in order to successfully instil behavioural change. As recycling requires residents to change their habits, Sue Fletcher, Technical Officer Waste Management, explains that repetition through the catchy term FOGO had a positive effect on influencing change, as it became entrenched in the vocabulary of community members.

While the collection of garden organics is more commonplace in councils across Australia, Shellharbour saw potential for FOGO to significantly reduce waste to landfill, working hard to change community behaviours.

To achieve this, it conducted extensive surveys, free courses, television and radio advertisements, door knocks and barbecues, all with the goal of helping residents understand the benefits. They spoke to behavioural experts, industry experts and other councils from across the nation, implementing a strategic plan. The plan involved getting residents to voluntarily downsize their 240L to 140L residual waste bin and separating their food and organic waste into separate bins to prevent contamination.

The success story led to Shellharbour collecting more than 9000 tonnes of FOGO material at the kerbside between its launch in July 2016 and March 2017, an increase of more than 2200 tonnes compared to the same time last year. Its waste to landfill has already reduced by an additional 1616 tonnes, compared to the same time last year. The council has even managed to handle this alongside the municipality’s population growth, with waste to landfill continuing on a downward trend despite the increase in generation. So what’s stopping the rest of the nation from achieving a similar result?


While Shellharbour’s hard work shows that FOGO can be economically feasible and environmentally sound, the question remains how prevalent the service is. Data compiled by the Australian Government Department of the Environment and Energy (National Waste Reporting 2013) indicates that around 14 million tonnes (Mt) of organic waste was generated nationally in 2010–11, with 47 per cent of this disposed to landfill, 44 per cent recycled and 9 per cent used in energy recovery.

In Victoria for example, a spokesperson for statutory authority Sustainability Victoria says 13 out of 79 of Victoria’s councils provide a FOGO service to households. Of this figure, 53 provide some form of organics collection service to residents.

“There is definitely potential for an organics service to be expanded to the remaining councils,” the spokesperson says.

JustWaste Consulting director, Justin Jones, believes the slow progress of FOGO is due to the challenges of obtaining approval from the state’s environmental protection agencies (EPAs), which are concerned with the stigma surrounding noxious odours emitted by a food composting service. Another challenge also falls with councils, as they are tasked with getting their residents to change their waste disposal habits. The third issue relates to scalability, as the cost of setting up a composting service may outweigh the benefits depending on the population and type of operation.

According to the Federal Government Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities Food and Garden Organics Best Practice Manual, collecting source separated food and garden organics can help councils alleviate the costs of landfill disposal by avoiding levies, reducing the costs of public park and gardens (through composting) and assist the climate by preventing anaerobic decomposition in landfill.


A factsheet based on the former Federal Government’s Food and Garden Organics Best Practice Collection Manual (2012) indicates there are various technologies used in a composting service, including; windrowing, aerated static pile, in-vessel composting and fully enclosed composting.

Open windrow composting is defined in the document as a low-cost option that is used in the majority of organics processing facilities in Australia and the world. Open windrow composting involves placing organic matter or biodegradable waste in long rows known as windrows. The windrows are turned regularly, either with front end loaders or dedicated windrow turners, screening for contamination which allows the organic matter to decompose.

Aerated static pile is a more expensive version of composting and involves mixing organic residues in one large pile, instead of rows. Piles are placed over a network of pipes that deliver air into, or draw out of, the pile, aerating the material to supply it with oxygen to grow and remove moisture and heat. This is known as forced aeration. Aerated static pile generally requires blowers, pipes and sensors to control the supply of air.

Forced aeration is also used in in-vessel composting, which involves feeding organic materials into a drum, silo, tunnel, box or similar container. The intensive composting process takes place in controlled environmental conditions, regulating the temperature, moisture and aeration. Materials are premixed before being loaded into a vessel, where they sit for about one to three weeks before further composting and placement in static piles or aerated windrows.

Sue says as a result of the environmental impact statement and consultation with relevant agency bodies, Shellharbour used in-vessel composting due to the location of the facility to the surrounding receptors.


While Shellharbour’s experience has been successful, others have noted the potential for FOGO to reduce the national footprint of waste going to landfill.

JustWaste director Justin Jones says he sees huge potential for FOGO, particularly smaller operations. This is due to the ease of obtaining approval from the EPA for composting, as a key distance from municipal areas means less of an odour risk, while also being more financially viable due to their smaller scale.

“In metropolitan areas such as Melbourne, you’re dealing with larger volumes as well as the perception of odour issues. Victoria has stringent guidelines in regards to how you can compost FOGO, so that could be the reason why they’ve been slow to embrace change.”

Justin says operators in NSW utilise many differing technology and processes for the treatment of organics, especially FOGO. He says that as more sites become available to accept organics, more councils will make the switch. He says the perception that FOGO is a high-risk odour issue can be overcome by proper process control, technology choice and the fact that the food component is so low.

JustWaste conducted a study into a small-scale composting facility for Coolamon Shire Council in the Riverina region of NSW. The 2017 assessment found the construction of a small-scale windrow composting area could be put together at a low cost and quick turnaround, particularly when attached to an existing landfill.

He estimates that open windrowing can cost up to $50,000, while forced aeration systems cost around $150,000 and an in-vessel system could cost anywhere between $500,000 to $1 million. Justin notes that the cost and benefits depend largely on the scalability of the project.

Coolamon Shire Council has seen significant cost savings from the process. Colby Farmer, Executive Manager of Development and Environmental Services, says the council uses open windrow composting to produce a compost used in the municipality’s parks and gardens. Colby says councils across Australia could develop a business case for selling the compost back on to consumers.

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The big green furphy: experts bust degradable plastic bag myth

An interesting article originally published in the SMH, watch the video here  . As we continue to campaign for education about the risk of ‘biodegradable’ bags, and compare them to alternatives such as ‘compostable’ solutions, it’s important to highlight Australia’s strict Compostable Certifications for both home composting and industrial composting. 

Next time you accept a degradable plastic bag at the supermarket, think again – you may be doing little to help the environment and adding dangerous microplastics to rivers and oceans, experts say.

The warning has prompted a Senate committee to call for a public awareness campaign to explain the differences between degradable, biodegradable, compostable and traditional plastic bags – and how they should be disposed of – to educate consumers who mistakenly believe they are doing the right thing.

“Degradable” plastics, commonly used for shopping and rubbish bags, contain additives that make them disintegrate more quickly than traditional plastics. Some people also refer to these products as “biodegradable”.

A Senate committee has called for a campaign to explain how different types of plastic should be disposed of.

While such bags do not remain for decades in the environment as large debris, they can break into smaller and smaller particles until they become microplastics – tiny plastic fragments less than five millimetres in size.

When microplastics enter the marine environment they can choke seabirds, poison wildlife and accumulate up the food chain, turning up in seafood eaten by humans.

A Senate committee last week produced a report into the “toxic tide” of marine plastic pollution, including plastic shopping bags.

The Senate committee has produced a report into the "toxic tide" of marine plastic pollution.Tony Underwood, University of Sydney emeritus professor of experimental ecology, told the inquiry that biodegradable plastic may become less obvious to the naked eye over time, but was an “invisible idiot”.

“[It] simply turns it into smaller forms of plastic more quickly,” he said. “It is not a solution to anything much, unless we are quite happy to shift it all into particle-sized plastics rather than plastic bag-sized plastic.”

University of Queensland academic Kathy Townsend told the committee that consumers were largely confused about different types of bags, and using the terms “degradable” and “biodegradable” plastic inspired more littering because people wrongly believed it would “degrade and go away”.

The rapid disintegration of such plastic also makes it “available to animals much faster than it would be otherwise”, she said.

University of NSW biodiversity expert Mark Browne cited research comparing biodegradable and traditional plastic bags, saying “we put them on a mudflat and looked at the changes in animals and plants that lived among them, and they both caused the same impact”.

The committee said the term “biodegradable” could also refer to “fully biodegradable” or “compostable” plastics generally made from plant materials which return to base organic components when processed by commercial composting facilities.

Clean Up Australia managing director Terrie-Ann Johnson told the inquiry of a large Australian retailer – understood to be Target – that introduced compostable bags but experienced a “customer backlash … because they were not strong enough”.

She said people often wrongly thought compostable containers could break down in backyard compost, when they required commercial composting units, and “there are not enough … units in the country to take them”.

The committee, dominated by Labor and Greens members, noted community confusion over plastic bag types, their disposal and their various environmental effects. It called on the government to encourage states and territories to run targeted education campaigns aiming to change consumer behaviour on plastic use and provide information about alternatives.

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2,300 Tonnes of Food and Garden Organics Recycled in Byron Shire

Originally published in the BYRON BAY BLOG. For more information about this publication or the beautiful Byron Bay area, click here . For more information on the Compost-A-Pak liners used in the program, click here

Congratulations Byron Shire! You have recycled 2,300 tonnes of food and garden organics in six months!


This has reduced Council’s putrescible landfill waste transport and disposal costs by approximately $150,000 since the implementation of the three bin collection service in August. Plus, Byron Shire has on average 30 per cent less kerbside waste going to landfill compared to the previous two-bin system.

Of the total kerbside waste collected each month, an average of 31 per cent is organic materials, 32 per cent recycling and the remaining 37 per cent is landfill waste.

Mayor Simon Richardson thanked residents for being a ‘good sort’.

Overall Byron Shire’s kerbside recycling rate is now 63 per cent, compared with 38 per cent prior to the introduction of our organics service. It’s a great result.

“Particularly impressive is that we have maintained this over the extremely busy Christmas holiday period. But we can do better, let’s aim for a total recycling rate of 70 per cent,” he urged.

Instead of being buried in landfill, our organic materials are processed into certified organic compost at Lismore City council’s composting facility and used by local farmers and growers to improve agricultural soils.

Local farmer and founder of social enterprise, Munch Crunch Organics, Alasdair Smithson, has been using Lismore’s kerbside organics compost for seven or eight years.

“Overall we are happy with the product and it is a good soil improver, hopefully we can do it in the Byron Shire soon too,” he said.

Alasdair thanked the community for contributing their organics because the compost is being used by local farmers and growers.

“It’s really important to us as organic farmers, that we return organic waste back to the soil to build the organic matter and reduce the effects of climate change by doing so,” Mr Smithson said.

Suffolk Park resident, Suzie Morley is happy to have been part of this important environmental initiative and says the three bin system works well for her family of four.

“We compost anyway and have a worm farm, but we were producing more organic waste as a family than the worms could cope with,” Ms Morley said.

“It’s a super easy system and we find we hardly use our red bin.”

Ms Morley said the key to making the system work is to have three bins set up in the kitchen.

We have a cardboard box in the cupboard for all of our recycling and a bin with a liner in it under the kitchen sink for all landfill waste and the caddy on the counter right next to the chopping board for all food scraps so it’s convenient when we are cooking.”

“I think it’s good for training the little ones and now even our four year old Millie knows about composting.”

Contamination update

Organics bin contamination continues to be very low; Council is still keen to remind residents not to use plastic bags, degradable or biodegradable bags in the organics bin.

Place food organics inside a green compostable caddy liner, wrap scraps in newspaper or place directly inside the caddy. All food and garden waste, including things like meat bones, seafood and soiled paper can also go in the organics bin.

Yellow bin recycling results are also good, but the main contaminants are bagged hard plastic recyclables and loose soft plastics.

This has the potential to spoil a whole truckload of recycling and everybody is needed to stay on board and put the correct items into each bin.

If you need a reminder about what items go in each bin, check the A-Z Recycling Guide on the Byron Shire Council website.

As part of the 3 bin collection service, Council continues to conduct weekly visual bin contamination audits which are a great way of providing extra education to our residents about what items can go in each of the bins.

youre_getting_it_sorted_byron_shire_-_2300_tonnes_of_food_and_garden_organics_recycled-recourse_recovery_pie_graph-520x473We’d also like to thank the Byron Shire Echo for supporting this local environmental initiative by introducing a green compostable bag and we encourage anybody else in the same position to jump on board and use compostable instead of plastic bags!

Find out more about our three bin collection service at

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The Next Generation Kitchen Caddy

Kitchen BinAt Source Separation Systems, we believe small actions can change the world, and so we are passionate about inspiring people to live more sustainably.

In Australia, approx. 50% of household waste is organic, and we know a successful organics program can have a significant impact in reducing community landfill rates, and improving sustainability.

Over the last twelve months our team have been busy reviewing best-practice organic kitchen waste collection programs,and understanding the key challenges, with the aim to improve our products. We are really excited to announce that we will be launching a new KITCHEN CADDY in the coming months.

The next generation kitchen caddy builds on the success of our conventional caddy, but is packed with additional features, developed as an outcome of our research talking to customers. In addition, in an industry first, the new technology we are using will revolutionise educational messages, making in much easier for families to divert their kitchen waste correctly.

And what’s more, not only is this caddy designed by our team in Australia to assist Australian families, it is also 100% manufactured in Australia.

Want to know more? Call our team on 1300 739 913 to view one of our first- run production units, straight off the Australian factory floor.

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Corporate Social Responsibility – The Way We Do Business

Source Separation Systems’ mission statement is to deliver world class solutions that inspire individuals to make the world a more sustainable place through waste diversion and recycling.IMG_3190

Corporate Social Responsibility is at the core of our organisation.

Our innovative packaging cartons are an important reflection of our CSR, and how it influences the way we do business, every day.

These unique cartons have been specifically designed by our talented, passionate team. Made from 100% recycled material, the design enables customers to up-cycle the packaging into Recycling Trucks, which can in turn help to engage kids about the importance of recycling.

More generally, as a team we all recognise the obligations of, not only our leaders, but all team members in acting responsibility, ethically and with integrity at all times, through our interactions with each other, customers, partners and importantly, the environment.

To this end we are all committed to;

  • Providing best-practice recycling products, and expert advice, to ensure our customers can achieve their sustainable goals.
  • Maintaining trusted relationships with our customers and community, through excellent service, and by acting with honesty and integrity at all times.
  • Working with all partners to ensure our products are ethically purchased and responsibly produced. We strive for transparency.
  • Minimising Heath and Safety risks, and promoting well being for all.
  • Empowering, supporting and developing each other, and creating an innovative, diverse, flexible and fun team culture.
  • Minimising our environmental impact, and promoting sustainability across the wider community, by sharing stories to inspire others to act.

IMG_3289We strive to be recognised as market leader of corporate social responsibility, and to make a positive difference through both our direct interactions, and through our best practice recycling solutions.

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