Sydney metropolitan councils, the New South Wales government and waste and recycling industry representatives came together last week to tackle the growing problem of the food Sydney-siders throw away.

The War on Food Waste forum saw mayors, general managers, chief executive officers, State Government specialists and industry representatives discuss a whole-of-Sydney solution.

In 2014/15 it is estimated that the Sydney Metro Area sent 331,150 tons of food organics to landfill, costing over $40 million in waste levy alone. At today’s costs, that tonnage would cost councils $47.3 million.

Key guest speaker and War on Waste champion, Craig Ruecassel, spoke of the need for councils to form a plan for the future of food waste management. He warned that if councils want the waste levy back they need a solid plan for what they will do with it.

Amanda Kane, the Director of Waste Programs at the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment, said that food organics recovery was on the rise, but that councils needed to ensure that there was a market for the compost created by food waste recovery.

CEO of the Waste Management and Resource Recovery Association, Gayle Sloan, said that while industry could build the plants, councils needed to provide a serious commitment to supplying recovered food waste to the plant, and perhaps needed to commit to buying back some of the finished product in the form of compost for Council-run green spaces.

Meanwhile, City of Melbourne is currently seeking innovative technology solutions to expand and enhance its network of rubbish and recycling hubs throughout the central city.

Council is looking locally and overseas for the best technologies that will work in Melbourne, for example Milan, which has amongst the highest rates of recycling in Europe.

From mini-compactor bins, to specialised vehicles, and collection of source separated materials, all innovations will be considered.

Since 2013 the City of Melbourne has removed more than 500 bins off the streets by providing access to communal garbage compactors.
Ultimately the network of waste and recycling hubs will be expanded to transform the way waste and recycling is collected in the central city; rather than multiple trucks circling the city businesses will take their items to a local collection point.

Expanding the hub network would streamline collection services and improve public amenity reducing the 1000 individual bins stored in laneways across the central city, causing odour, visual pollution and attracting vermin.