Food Organics Garden Organics (FOGO) bins have been implemented by councils across WA in recent years.

Curtin University Professor of sustainability Peter Newman says every council in Western Australia will eventually use the FOGO system, which relies on residents separating their waste which is converted to compost and garden supplies.

“The processes of making compost can be done quite simply,” he says.

“It’s not a problem of scale, any small council can turn FOGO waste into compost.

“It’s a very straightforward process, most of it is done by nature. ”

Five more WA local governments ­– the Shire of Esperance, City of Nedlands, City of Subiaco, Town of Mosman Park, and the Town of Claremont ­– have chosen to opt into the State Government’s ‘Better Bins Plus program: Go FOGO’ this month, bringing the total number of participating municipalities up to 23.

Professor Newman says composting organic material is the first step in dealing with solid waste. 

Any organic waste, from food to plant debris, can be thrown into FOGO bins. Photo: Naomi D’Roza.

“We have taken that first step at Melville, with a big group of South West councils who are recycling organic waste through composting and that is a very big system that’s been working for some time, and has been working well.”

Organic waste in the metropolitan area is taken to recyclers and composting facilities like Purearth where they are turned into products that can be sent back into the market. 

Tissue papers, food soiled cardboard, and other organic waste is being turned into compost. Photo: Naomi D’Roza.

Director of Purearth Paul Curtis says the organisation gets their organic waste from businesses, local governments and councils which need their organic waste processed.

“We were the first in the metropolitan area to receive a contract with FOGO with the Southern Metropolitan Regional Council and we have successfully run that since 2019 and processed a fairly large volume of FOGO [waste],” he says.

The City of Melville have gone a step further and installed public FOGO bins. Photo: Naomi D’Roza.

“We do a range of organics, [that’s] many thousands of tonnes in total.”

But it hasn’t been smooth sailing for all local councils, the City of Bunbury has 25,000 tonnes of organic waste that is unused.

Professor Newman says the FOGO system in Bunbury worked well, in terms of collection, but they don’t have a system to turn the waste to compost.

“I’m not sure why they planned to go ahead with FOGO without having a plan as to how they would treat the waste once it happened. Perhaps they didn’t think many people would use the FOGO bins, but you underestimate the population of Western Australia, which is very into environmentally-sensitive and responsible behaviour.”

“We like to recycle and as soon as that option was made available, people would have been using it.”

Listen to more from Peter Newman.

Categories: General