In 2016, Hepburn Shire began a feasibility study with funding from the Victorian Government New Energy Jobs Fund (NEJF) to look at options for processing organic waste rather than it going to landfill. An anaerobic digestor project operated at Creswick Transfer Station from 2018, processing food waste and generating a biogas, methane.

After the project began, the State Government introduced waste and recycling policy changes through Recycling Victoria: a new economy. One aspect was mandating that councils offer an organics service to remove food and garden organics and another was an increase to the landfill levy. The original organic waste project underwent an evolution to an in-vessel composting unit enabling both food and garden organics to be processed to ensure policy requirements can be met in the future.

An in-vessel composting unit will produce a high-quality compost which can be used locally. The organics bin is different to home compost, as you can include meat, bones, fish, cheese, and other dairy items. The organics required for the composting unit will be collected kerbside from Clunes. Clunes was selected as the location for the trial due to its proximity to the processing site in Creswick and the estimated organic waste suits the processing capabilities of the trial.

The lime-green lidded 120 litre organics bin will be delivered in early March to residents who are part of the current township collection, ready for the first collection on Monday 22 March. Residents will also receive a kitchen caddy for their benchtop to collect kitchen scraps for transporting to their wheelie bin. Residents are asked to not use any bags in these caddies, as the service is a bag free system.

During the trial residents will continue to have a weekly landfill kerbside collection, and recycling will continue to be collected fortnightly. The additional weekly organics collection will be at no cost to residents for the trial. All Clunes residents are being encouraged to participate to ensure a successful trial.

Mayor, Cr Lesley Hewitt, said the organics bin was an excellent solution to reduce the amount of food scraps and garden waste that go into landfill. She added, “This not only reduces the cost of waste disposal, but also reduces the amount of greenhouse gas that our community generates”.

“We are looking forward to learning about the benefits of collecting and processing organics, and hope we can use this model across the Shire in the future,” said Interim CEO, Bradley Thomas. “We will be providing the community with information about how the trial is going and addressing contamination through bin auditing and education”.

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