International Compost Awareness Week 2023

Published on 08 May 2023

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Upper Hunter Shire Council is encouraging residents to get involved in International Compost Awareness Week 2023, which is being celebrated from Sunday 7th May to Saturday 13th May. The theme for this year is ‘For Healthier Soil, Healthier Food…Compost’ and aims to improve awareness of the importance of compost and to promote compost use, knowledge and products. 

The average household throws away $2,500 worth of food every year – the equivalent to one in five shopping bags. This equates to Australians wasting 7.6 million tonnes of food each year. 

More than half of the average Australian’s red-lid general waste bin is made up of food and garden waste. Upper Hunter Shire Council’s Waste Management Coordinator, Oscar Gallagher explains that when this organic material goes into the red lid bin it ends up in landfill. 

“As this organic material decomposes in landfill it releases methane gas which has 24 times the global warming potential of carbon dioxide, Mr Gallagher said. 

“Establishing a backyard compost bin or worm farm for your organic waste materials, in addition to using your green lid Food Organics Garden Organics (FOGO) kerbside bin, is a win-win. The organic materials are diverted from landfill, saving space and reducing emissions; while the composting process turns your waste into a valuable resource,” Mr Gallagher concluded. 

Materials suitable for backyard composting include all fruit and vegetables, grass clippings and leaves, small branches, tea leaves and coffee grounds, weeds, small amounts of cardboard and newspaper and manure (herbivore only). Avoid placing bread, pasta and noodles, all meat and seafood, dairy, non-herbivore manure, large amounts of cardboard, tree stumps, large branches and building timber into your compost. 

In your kerbside FOGO bin, you can place all food types as well as garden organic materials. Food waste can either be placed loose straight into the FOGO bin or you can use a Council issued Australian Standard compostable caddy liner available to purchase from Council’s Resource Recovery Facilities or the Council Administration Centre. Between July 2022 – when the kerbside FOGO service commenced - and December 2002, 925 tonnes of food and garden organic materials has been collected for composting with the amount of waste going to landfill reducing by 510 tonnes (32% reduction of waste to landfill). 

Composting has many environmental, social, and economic benefits including the opportunity to increase carbon in the soil, improve soil quality and resilience, and reduce carbon emissions. Compost also improves the water retention capacity of soil meaning that you need to water less often. Compost is a free, natural fertiliser reducing the need to spend money on chemical alternatives. 

Depending on the size of your garden, the number of people in your household, and the amount of food and garden waste you generate, there are a range of compost systems to suit everyone’s needs. This includes compost bins, static piles, compost tumblers or worm farms. No backyard? No problem! You can use a Bokashi bin to make sure your food scraps do not go to waste but get turned into a valuable resource instead! 

Halving the amount of organic waste sent to landfill by 2030 is one of the targets outlined in the Government’s NSW Waste & Sustainable Materials Strategy 2021-2041 as it moves to transition to a circular economy over the next 20 years. An effective compost system not only diverts organic waste from landfill, but it also helps to close the loop: Grow  Eat  Compost  Repeat! 

This is why there’s never been a better time to get composting! Upper Hunter Shire Council is calling on individuals, local schools, community groups and businesses to get involved and offers worm farms and compost kits for sale at cost price. To purchase a compost or worm farm for your backyard, or for more information, please contact Council.