You may have heard a lot of talk about something called FOGO in recent weeks. So, to avoid any FOMO about FOGO, let me explain what it's all about.
FOGO stands for Food Organics, Garden Organics, and it's the generic term for the collection of food scraps, organic garden material and other compostable items such as paper products with food oil (for example, pizza boxes), and the processing of that waste into compost.
It's a relatively new approach to waste management in Western Australia and it's one the State Government has thrown its support behind.
On the face of it, it makes very good sense, and it's likely it will eventually play a large part in the waste processing market in future years.
But in the current market, it can be expensive, extremely difficult to administer, and in the short term, may not be as effective as other waste strategies such as Waste to Energy.
Waste to Energy is a project that takes refuse and turns it into heat or electricity. After waste avoidance, reuse, and recycling, Waste to Energy is the final opportunity to get value from material that would otherwise go to landfill.
The Shire of Murray, and other councils that are members of the Rivers Regional Council (RRC), linked up to plan the first Waste to Energy facility in Australia some years ago.
This will open in Kwinana in 2023, and will divert 97% of waste from landfill, powering the equivalent of 50,000 homes, and leaving a residual material that can be reused as building or road materials.
Waste to Energy is already used around the world, is cost-effective, and tends to have higher environmental standards than FOGO. FOGO on the other hand could cost each ratepayer up to $150 a year more and requires a large capital outlay to purchase new bins.
There are also additional truck pickup and traffic movements to consider as well as contamination challenges to manage.
RRC members are excited by the Waste to Energy innovation, and we are looking forward to better understanding the benefits, impacts and opportunities it presents once the project is fully up and running.
We'll also have a better sense of where FOGO, and other waste management options, fit into the mix by then; certainly no one expects local councils to only have one solution, and we'd expect there to be a mixed approach to waste given the variety of it that's created.
While there's clearly a mixture of waste strategy options in Western Australia, it's exciting to see the innovation that's happening to solve our refuse challenges in environmentally considerate ways.
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