Council to amend food organics program as market changes

Ipswich residents would be asked to pause placing food scraps in their green-lidded bins under a proposal to be considered by council’s Environment and Sustainability Committee on Tuesday.

Ipswich Mayor Teresa Harding said council was considering amending its Food Organics Garden Organics (FOGO) service in preparation for proposed Queensland Government changes to the environmental standards for composting, making food waste significantly more expensive to process.

“Council and our community have been fierce advocates for significant change in organics composting to mitigate odour issues being experienced by our residents. As a result, we are now seeing changes coming to the fore and the potential impacts this may have on the industry,” Mayor Harding said.

“Council is being asked to consider keeping its garden organics collection service but pausing its food organics service while the State’s proposed legislative changes for food organics are reviewed by the waste industry.

“While we have been working closely with the Queensland Government to prepare our city for the city-wide FOGO rollout in the 2025-2026 financial year, both organisations see the urgent need to address the city’s odour issues as the priority.

“In response to significant feedback from the Ipswich community, the Queensland Government is proposing to deem food organics a ‘highly odorous’ material. If passed, this legislation will place much stronger restrictions on what material can go to composting operators.

“The waste industry must now review these changes and improve their own processes to meet the significantly higher expectations of the State, council, and the community.

“With these proposed changes and the lack of enclosed composting facilities available across the south-east, the estimated cost for council to deliver a sustainable FOGO program would now be three or four times higher than previously projected.”

Mayor Harding said council’s green-lid bin service for garden waste would continue for existing customers, as well as plans for the service to be expanded across Ipswich next year as part of a core three-bin service.

“This new approach from the State is a welcome move to reduce the ongoing impacts of odour on Ipswich residents and to prompt much-needed change for licenced compost operators across South East Queensland,” Mayor Harding said.

“Like many councils across the south-east, we are preparing for these changes and ensuring we are ready to respond. We are hopeful this is a short term pause for a long-term improvement to the odour issues our residents have been experiencing.”

Environment and Sustainability Committee Chairperson Councillor Jim Madden said the change would be clearly communicated in the months ahead to all residents with a green-lidded bin opt-in service.

“Pausing this component of our waste reform plan is the responsible thing to do for our community,” Cr Madden said.

“Over the past four years we have progressed the purchase of the majority of the needed infrastructure and assets to deliver a full FOGO service – including new trucks, green-lidded bins and education campaigns.

“These assets are on their way and will be put into service for the city-wide program where all residents can place all garden waste into their green-lidded bins.

“Council will be investigating alternative options to help the community sustainably manage Food Organics to fill the gap until we are confident we can sustainably deliver this part of the program.

“We welcome all moves to improve how waste operators treat their materials and reduce odour and negative impacts on local communities. Ipswich is no stranger to the challenges of waste management.

“When the waste industry has absorbed these new State requirements, we will be in a good position to potentially return Food Organics to the green bin.

“Council has been working closely with the Queensland Government and the Council of Mayors South-East Queensland (CoMSEQ) on the transition to FOGO and GO, and is grateful for funding from the State for this key transition.”

Cr Madden said council has secured significant additional Queensland Government GrowFOGO funding to support the transition to higher levels of diversion of waste from landfill for the Ipswich community.

The funding is supporting the purchase of additional green lidded bins and education programs to support the city-wide rollout of GO processing across the Ipswich local government area.

Garden organics will continue to be provided to NuGrow for composting at its Swanbank site under council’s current contract with them. As garden organics are not considered highly odorous they can continue to be collected and processed in a way that diverts this waste from landfill.

If endorsed at the Environment and Sustainability Committee meeting on 11 June, the recommendation will be considered at the Ordinary Council meeting on 20 June.

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