Mallacoota’s innovative journey from kitchen to compost

Sep 17, 2014 Organics

The Victorian coastal town of Mallacoota has almost halved the amount of organic waste that ends up in the kerbside bins headed for landfill, since the introduction of East Gippsland Shire Council’s ‘Kitchen 2 Compost’ program in 2010.

Working in collaboration with Gippsland Regional Waste Management Group and the Mallacoota community to deliver the program, East Gippsland Shire Council was the recipient of the Innovative Council Award at the annual Australasian Waste and Recycling Expo in 2013 in recognition of the council’s efforts to reduce landfill dependency.

Kitchen 2 Compost has seen the removal of kitchen organics and green waste from Mallacoota’s municipal waste stream, as well as the introduction of a permanent local composting site. The green waste, which was previously being burnt at the local landfill site, is now producing a compost product that can be used in community parks, gardens, landfill rehabilitation and sporting fields.

The program was piloted in 2010 after a council audit identified an opportunity to recover green waste and compost it in Mallacoota. Initially a 12-month trial on a local farm, the Kitchen 2 Compost project has continued for three years. A new permanent composting site on the outskirts of Mallacoota, owned by East Gippsland Water and supported by funding from Sustainability Victoria, opened in August 2014 and has resulted in the creation of paid employment for a local community member.

Mayor of the East Gippsland Shire, Cr Mark Reeves, said the program came to fruition through the keen support of the Mallacoota community, which lobbied council for the collection and processing of organics to be continued on a permanent basis once it was piloted.

“Introducing a composting site closer to town has resulted in both environmental and economic benefits for the local community,” Cr Reeves said.

“Mallacoota’s green waste was previously transported 293km from Mallacoota to Bairnsdale, before the material was carted a further 96km to be composted. Courtesy of Kitchen 2 Compost, we’ve been able to save on transportation costs, as well as reduce our greenhouse emissions.”

Mallacoota is home to close to 1,000 permanent residents, which significantly increases to around 10,000 residents during the summer holiday period. The town’s holiday park, Foreshore Camp Park – one of the largest holiday parks in the southern hemisphere – will trial the program over the Christmas holidays this year.

“The waste generated by the caravan park over the summer holidays is almost equivalent to the town’s waste over a one year period,” Cr Reeves said.

East Gippsland Shire Council has entered another new program targeting efficiency in waste services in the local area into this year’s Australasian Waste and Recycling Expo Council Innovation Awards as it believes the awards play an important role in recognising the innovation that many local councils are applying to projects in their communities.

Successful councils will be recognised at a cocktail reception at this year’s Australasian Waste and Recycling Expo, organised by Diversified Communications, at Sydney Olympic Park on Thursday, October 9, 2014.

Diversified Communications Group Exhibition Director, Brett Judd, said the Innovation Council Awards celebrate councils that demonstrate forward-thinking when it comes to waste and recycling issues within the local community.

“The Kitchen 2 Compost program is an exemplary case study of a group of people banding together to enact change in the waste sector to make Australians less dependent on landfill,” Mr Judd said.

“As the largest platform dedicated to the waste and recycling industry in Australasia, we feel that it is important to highlight the successful implementation of council projects to the wider community to help drive the industry forward.

“The annual Australasian Waste and Recycling Expo presents an important opportunity for innovators in the waste and recycling industry like East Gippsland Shire Council to come together to look at how we can shift current attitudes and behaviours of Australians towards waste management.”