Fresh food goes to landfill

Article image - Fresh food goes to landfill South Australia’s largest bin audit found more than half of all landfill should be recycled.

New research has revealed more than half of all landfill waste in metropolitan Adelaide could have been recycled simply by using the correct recycling or green organics bin.

Much of it was food waste, 75 percent of which was still edible when thrown out.

The recently released East Waste 2019 Household Bin Audit, the most in-depth household bin study undertaken in South Australia, sifted and sorted 29 tonnes of material from 2100 bins to complete the audit.

East Waste Chair, Fraser Bell, said the audit provided an unprecedented insight into the disposal behaviours of South Australians and would inform initiatives to influence household disposal habits for significant financial and environmental benefits.

“The findings tell us clearly that diverting food waste from landfill is our greatest opportunity to reduce costs to councils and the community while reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

“If all organics going to landfill were diverted into the green bin, it would save $2.7 million a year across the seven councils served by East Waste. Just 13 percent of all food organics is correctly binned; the lowest efficiency for any recyclable material.”

The audit found more than 27 percent of the contents of a general waste bin for landfill was food waste that could be composted.

“These findings are concerning and show that consumer education is needed in a range of food areas such as the difference between ‘best-before’ and ‘use-by’ dates and biodegradable versus compostable packaging,” Bell said.

“Food waste recycling in South Australia is low compared to some interstate councils. Yet, paradoxically, here in South Australia we have two of the nation’s most effective private composting companies, including Wingfield’s Jeffries Group that processes our material.”

East Waste is collaborating with Fight Food Waste Cooperative Research Centre (CRC), the University of Adelaide, Green Industries SA and Rawtec on the WWW (What, Where and Why) of Household Food Waste Behaviour project.

Other findings indicate a strong case for improved glass recycling. The average East Waste household disposes of more than 20 kg of wine bottles a year.

East Waste is a subsidiary of the Cities of Burnside, Campbelltown, Mitcham, Prospect Norwood, Payneham and St Peters, Town of Walkerville and Adelaide Hills councils.