December 16, 2022
Optimising FOGO Through Liner Distribution Practices
This article was originally published in Waste Management Review.
It’s official, caddy liners are encouraged in food organic, garden organic (FOGO) programs within New South Wales. Source Separation Systems has come up with a solution for councils to get liners into the hands of residents on a needs basis.
The New South Wales Environment Protection Authority recently released a statement legislating its position on what can and can’t be placed into food organics, garden organics (FOGO) programs.
The new rules are simple – FOGO programs can include food, garden organics, and liners, either compostable plastic caddy liners (Certified AS 4736-2006) or fibre-based caddy liners (paper).
Pet poo, food packaging (regardless of certifications), additional biodegradable bags, vacuum cleaner dust and dryer lint are all now banned.
While the speed of the changes has surprised many, the EPA says the ruling has been based on research that shows some of the banned items contain harmful chemicals.
It also says that compostable plastic kitchen caddy liners have been shown to help divert food waste from landfill by enabling easier and cleaner food waste collections for households and businesses.
A recent study by MRA Consulting quantified this benefit, finding councils that supplied liners had on average 30 per cent more FOGO capture than those without.
While the study noted that those councils not supplying liners did so to save costs, modelling showed that the avoided landfill gate fees for the additional food waste captured because liners were provided, resulted in savings well exceeding the cost of providing liners. Essentially providing liners improved the overall cost benefits of the program.
Peter Cruwys, Managing Director of Source Separation Systems, says the legislation provides a clear guideline for a best practice and simplified approach to FOGO, which will encourage consistency across the state, and potentially Australia.
Peter has been running FOGO programs across Australia for more than 10 years, often providing the company’s Compost-A-Pak® liners. He believes providing liners is key to a successful FOGO program for councils and suggests that the new legislation will only increase the distribution of liners.
“The new rules for FOGO in NSW are exceptionally simple. It’s food and garden organics only, and then liners,” he says.
“Liners are imperative given the increase in diversion they provide; however they are a key contamination point. That’s not surprising given customer confusion when they face the shelves and shelves of greenwashed hybrid bags in the supermarket sitting alongside those Australian Certified Compostable.
“When councils instead provide their preferred and trusted liners to residents, they can optimise diversion, nearly eliminate contamination, and save money. The key is getting liners into the hands of residents conveniently, particularly on a needs basis outside the annual distribution cycle.”
Peter says that as FOGO is embraced, councils are seeking a convenient way to provide residents with additional liners when they run out. The approach varies from council to council.
Some councils have heavily promoted the distribution of subsequent Compost-A-Pak® liners through their service centres and libraries. Peter says that some of these programs have had a flow-on effect of increasing library visits, engagement and borrowing.
“Alternatively, COVID-19 really fast-tracked our community’s willingness to engage and order online, and so our innovative new FOGO Ordering Portal is really being embraced,” he says.
Source Separation Systems has been building on its FOGO residential distribution experience and software with a new service to get caddy liners to residents – when they need them.
The Source Separation Systems FOGO Ordering Platform is a fully customisable bolt-on solution which councils can imbed in their website to direct their residents to access additional Compost-A-Pak® liners for use throughout the year.
It allows only those residents with predetermined eligibility to access either partially or fully subsidised liners or caddies from a chosen subset of products. The resident can choose to have the products delivered or pick up from listed local council hubs.
The portal is customised for each council, providing unique branding and a customisable experience depending on the eligibility, product limitation, subsidy settings and freight options chosen by each council.
Source Separation Systems supports the FOGO Ordering Portal with an in house logistics solution so all warehousing, storage, stock control, labour and program delivery costs are managed, allowing council teams to focus on engaging with their communities.
“The FOGO Ordering Portal technology, administration and logistics support that our team provides really does free up the councils to instead focus on critical community engagement,” Peter says. “The flexibility of the portal is even allowing councils to target community subsets such as multi-unit dwellings (MUDs) with more tailored programs, which is promising.”
Peter says that while MUDs are notoriously difficult to engage, the Portal allows councils to target specific groups and provide them with a convenient way to access FOGO liners and caddies if they opt in.
He says Source Separation Systems is currently working with a Melbourne council to target MUDs less than five storeys.
“As with many industries, technology is improving the service experience and Source Separation Systems certainly believe it’s a key component to a successful FOGO program,” he says.