It is less than one month before changes commence to kerbside bin collections for township residents in Hepburn Shire.

Under the changes, a new weekly food organics and garden organics (FOGO) kerbside collection will be introduced for townships, with general rubbish/landfill collection moving to fortnightly. Collection of mixed recycling will remain fortnightly.

The new organics bins and kitchen caddies will be delivered in the next two weeks in readiness for collection service starting from 8 April.

“We realise this is a significant change for our community,” said Hepburn Shire Mayor, Cr Brian Hood. “Disposal of waste is becoming more and more expensive. Making better use of food scraps and garden clippings means less waste that ends up in landfill, reduced landfill fees and transport costs and significantly better outcomes for the environment,” he said.

Cr Hood said a thorough education program had been underway this year to keep residents informed about the changes.

“We have posted an information pack to every township household and ratepayer. We’ve run ads in local newspapers, television and newsletters, held pop up sessions and shared information online. More information will also come out when the bins are delivered to 4,600 households in coming weeks,” he said.

But there is still considerable confusion about what can and can’t go in the FOGO bins. And confusion remains about mixed recycling.

The organics collection system is bagless. Kitchen organics waste should be placed in the kitchen caddies and later emptied into the FOGO bins. Bags should not be placed in the caddies – they should be lined with compostable paper liners for ease of emptying and cleaning. Even compostable or biodegradable bags can’t be used in the organics collection as they can hide contaminants, they don’t break down fast enough and they need to be removed by hand.

Although the composting process sterilises any seeds in the waste, the FOGO bins should not be used for disposal of noxious weeds such as blackberry, gorse and broom. (A complete list of declared noxious weeds is available from Agriculture Victoria.) This is not because the composting process is ineffective in sterilising weed seeds but because transporting noxious weeds is prohibited under Agriculture Victoria biosecurity legislation.

And while leftovers and out of date food can go into the FOGO bins, cooking oils and sauces should not. It is not clear what to do with the many meal leftovers which contain cooking oils or sauces.

Confusion remains about mixed recycling, particularly for plastics. Rigid plastics labelled 1PET, 2HDPE or 5PP are recyclable but rigid plastic lids are not. Soft plastics including plastic bags and packaging are not currently recyclable since the collapse of REDcycle in 2022.

Advice about mixed recycling in the Shire is available from the Council website.

“The weekly organics collection will help to divert thousands of tonnes of material from landfill, including food scraps and leftovers, meat, bones, dairy products, garden clippings, leaves and weeds,” said Mayor, Cr Brian Hood.

“Rather than ending up in landfill, these items will be treated as a valuable resource and converted locally to high-quality compost at the Creswick Transfer Station. The compost will be used to improve soil for local farms, parks and gardens,” he said.

Cr Hood said that careful separation of items will make a major difference for households unsure about how to reduce the amount of waste they send to landfill.

“Our 2023 bin audit showed on average more than half the contents of landfill/general rubbish bins (red lidded bin) were materials that will be able to go into the organics bin, and around 12% were items that should have been in the mixed recycling bin,” he said.

The introduction of an organics collection is a key action of Council’s Sustainable Hepburn Strategy, which was informed by input from 400 residents. Around 950 households in Clunes have successfully trialled a weekly organics collection since 2021, diverting around 350 tonnes of organic waste from landfill annually.

There will be no direct cost to residents and ratepayers for the service until 1 July 2024.

Council recognises that some households may produce more general rubbish than can be managed by a two-weekly collection, for example because of large amounts of medical waste. For those residents, additional bins are available for a fee.

The changes are part of the state government’s Recycling Victoria legislation, which requires all local governments to implement an organics service by 2030.

Township residents who have not received their new organics bin and caddy by Tuesday 2 April are encouraged to phone Council on (03) 5348 2306 to organise delivery.

Find out more about the changes at

If you have questions about the new FOGO service or about other waste disposal issues, send them in to and we will attempt to get Council to answer them for you.