Councils across Australia are constantly looking at ways to limit their environmental impact.
Despite the efforts of some local governments, experts have said that some measures miss the mark, with next to no positive results.
Mike Ritchie is the Managing Director of MRA Consulting, one of Australia’s leading environmental consultancy firms.
Ritchie has noticed councils using things like compostable dog waste bags.
“I think it is bizarre that councils are prepared to pay extra for compostable dog poo bags, when they still end up in landfill,” he said.
“Compostable bags in landfill generate methane. The equivalent plastic bag uses much less energy in its manufacture and contributes zero methane when landfilled.”
“This is green messaging gone wrong. The science says that in this situation, plastic bags would have less environmental impact.”
The Labor Opposition Leader in Brisbane City Council, Jared Cassidy, said until the city has an organic recycling system, compostable items will keep going to landfill.
“If we had a full Food Organics, Garden Organics (FOGO) system in Brisbane, these items would be able to be composted with all your other organic waste on an industrial scale. But for now, they’re actually doing more harm,” he said.
“Unfortunately, compostable coffee cups are the exact same here in Brisbane. Where closed landfill is used, compostable items are not doing what people think they are.”
More than 140 local governments in Australia have a FOGO collection system. This equates to over a quarter of the nation’s councils.
Brisbane City Council is Australia’s largest local government but is still well behind having a full FOGO service.
Councillor Cassidy said going FOGO in Brisbane is a “no-brainer”.
“Diverting food organics and garden organics to green bins could add three times as many jobs as regular landfill, it will dramatically reduce our greenhouse gas emissions and save ratepayers millions of dollars in waste levy charges, by taking 80,000 tonnes of organics out of landfill each year,” he said.
“A Labor Council would take real, sustainable action, but Brisbane’s LNP Mayor Adrian Schrinner prefers to spend $6 million in ratepayer funds on overseas carbon credits to cover for his emissions.”