RUBBISH talk and growing awareness about our loads of rubbish increasingly has Ballarat residents learning to scrap it out with their own hands.
A social media post late in the Easter long weekend calling for people to join the city's compost revolution has been generating a great influx of interest in how we can each better manage our food scraps.
City of Ballarat has joined social enterprise Compost Revolution, allowing residents subsidised access to a range of composting bins, worm farms and product for their homes. The aim is to empower people to help reduce landfill and greenhouse gas emissions while creating rich soil and fertiliser for their gardens or to share with others.
This was how Ballarat's ShareWaste hero Steph Gobor got started. A similar local government partnership when she was living in inner-Melbourne helped fuel her interest for what could be easy and possible.
Steph shared her story with The Courier last month on joining the national ShareWaste movement - a online forum connecting people's scraps with those who can and want to compost them. She hoped to inspire others.
Steph started simple with a worm farm, researching and learning from experience, expanded into other forms of composting and waste reduction.
City of Ballarat health and well-being planner Caroline Amirtharajah the key was for people to decide what method would best suit their household so there was a greater chance to persist in the long-term. The City's compost subsidy program is designed to be flexible from compost bins to worm farms and the increasingly popular Bokashi bins that can discreetly sit, without smell, in a kitchen cupboard.
This comes as local governments in neighbouring regional cities look to adapt the standard three-bin waste system.
City of Greater Geelong has this month flagged introducing fourth bin, exclusively for paper and cardboard. Also tabled is for central collection points dotted across the city.
Geelong mayor Bruce Harwood said almost half the city's recyclables were clean paper and cardboard but these were becoming contaminated by other recyclable products and losing value.
In central Warrnambool, "FOGO" has become part of the local lingo. A new food organics, garden organics green-bin system is rolling out across the city collecting all kinds of food scraps to be turned into a variety of mulch, fertiliser and soil at a composting specialist in Camperdown.
Households can collect scraps in certified compostable bin bags, issued by Warrnambool City Council, and placed in green bins with for kerbside collection.
Food and organic waste equates to 45 per cent of household rubbish in the shire. Warrnambool mayor Tony Herbert said the FOGO system in full will reduce greenhouse gas emissions to similar levels as taking 857 cars off Warrnambool roads.
But when it comes to Ballarat, Ms Amirtharajah said scrap collection was a big operation with about four times the number of households than Warrambool to consider, let alone access to a processing facility in the region that could handle the volume of waste.
Food scraps account for about 40 per cent of Ballarat household bin waste.
Ms Amirtharajah said education was important to change thinking about waste reduction, rather than redirection.
"It's also good to put some of the onus back on individuals to realise their waste is not just going to go away," Ms Amirtharajah said. "This (subsidy system) is one option, ShareWaste is another option. We're keen for people to get involved and learn. This option doesn't have to leave the home."
Ms Amirtharajah said ABC's War on Waste series and growth in media on the waste issue had shocked a lot of people into action.
THREE EASY WAYS COMPOST
- COMPOST BINS: good for big volumes of garden and food scraps; needs backyard space; handy for a family of four or more people.
- WORM FARMS: good for those who don't produce a lot of food scraps or garden clippings; handy in an apartment or limited garden space.
- BOKASHI BINS: good for small units or offices; can sit inside under a sink and does not stink; limited effort; semi-solid fertiliser can be shared.
City of Ballarat has been working closely with Grampians Central West Waste and Resource Recovery Group to best find ways to tap into this revolution. The resource recovery group has also been working with other shires in the region on rolling out similar programs.
The group has found a lot of people tend to get scared off from composting if they did not quite get the method right the first time. This was why they recommend people start small and with what they feel they could manage.
Ms Amirtharajah said most people tended to start with a Bokashi bin, which could fit in a cupboard under the sink, and collect most food waste, including meat, citrus and onion, which worm farms cannot take. A fermenting enzyme speeds up the process and prevents smell. The semi-solid result can be buried in the garden as a fertiliser or put in a compost bin, like a community compost or finding a neighbour on ShareWaste.
Education will be a key part of the City's program with residents able to follow Compost Revolution tutorials to help get started and maintain the system that fits their household.
The Grampians resource recovery group's strong presence in Ballarat schools, including scrap collection, has also been teaching children skills they can take home an influence their parents.
Compost Revolution started in 2010 with three inner-Sydney councils and expanded two years later into a nationwide movement that has so far diverted more than 10, 500 tonnes of compostable organic material from landfill. This helps to lower emissions from landfill and prevent groundwater contamination.
City of Ballarat environment and infrastructure director Terry Demeo said the city had been "intellectually hitchhiking" and sharing ideas with local governments across the state on how to best tackle organic waste and recycling. Mr Demeo said Compost Revolution was a key step forward.
The City will be able to measure success based on household orders and using up-to-date diversion estimates.
To learn more: compostrevolution.com.au/ballarat. City of Ballarat and Grampians resource recovery will also promote compost projects and workshops for International Compost Awareness Week in early May.
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