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First world drama hits Sydney

You know you’re in a privileged part of the world when you’re moaning about household composting bins – but to be fair, disgruntled Randwick residents in Sydney look as if they have a point about the council area’s new organic waste system.

Last month, Randwick brought in its new program to dispose of food organics and garden organics (FOGO) and supplied residents with a caddy and a bunch of biodegradable bags.

However, fed-up residents say the set-up is “useless” as the bags, made from corn starch, don’t stretch to fit over the caddy, meaning food scraps end up all over the place.

Some who have reached out to news.com.au say their caddies don’t close properly meaning hordes of fruit flies descend on their kitchens – particularly on the warmer days.

“I’m not sure who tested this out but it’s a shambles,” said Coogee resident Tom Davies. “The worst bit is that the bag never seems to fit the caddy so it just collapses every time you put food in there.”

Mr Davies said he and his partner strongly support the initiative behind the idea, which is to reduce residents’ impact on the environment.

This is because when organic waste is dumped in landfill, it undergoes anaerobic decomposition (because of the lack of oxygen) and generates methane. When released into the atmosphere, methane is 25 times more potent a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide.

Randwick Council says it brought in FOGO to divert the amount of waste that we’re sending to landfill – adding that around 80 councils in Australia are already doing something similar.

However, some residents said a little more care should have been put into the bag and caddy design so that it’s easier to dispose of their organic waste.

Posting to a local group not long after she got her caddy, Lucy Bloom said the design was the “worst in history”, saying the $12 bin she got from Bunnings does a better job.

“The prize for the worst design in history goes to the FOGO bucket. Economical use of space? Nah. Specific bags fit? Nope. Tough construction. Soz. The bin on the right is all those things. Bunnings $12,” she wrote.

Others agreed with Ms Bloom and detailed their own issues.

“I’ve got arthritis in my hands and there’s absolutely no way I can get those bags to fit the bin. Ridiculous. And the lid doesn’t close properly. Hubby and I just stood there going is this the best they could do?” another said.

Others complained about the bins attracting fruit flies.

“The lid doesn’t close properly and bags won’t fit. You almost have to tear them to make them fit and if you put the handle up to ‘close’ the lid, the carry handles of the bag cause for the bag to come out again,” one person said.

Others appeared to be very supportive of the initiative from Randwick Council and suggested those complaining had a classic case of first world problems.

“I am super grateful for having a progressive council that has pushed this out,” wrote one. “My bin seems to work fine. Thank you Randwick council.”

“Blimey! I second all the people saying its fantastic that this initiative exists and that the council is championing it, wrote another.

“If, ergonomically it isn’t quite right for you, then well done for finding an alternative – whether you’re hitting up Bunnings or using the bags only. But let’s just give a nod to the fact they are trying to do better.”

Randwick Council says on its website that, for the past eight years, it had been sending waste to an alternative treatment facility where much of the organic food matter was extracted and used for agricultural purposes.

“This meant we could significantly reduce what was being sent to landfill,” a spokesperson said.

“However, the EPA put a permanent stop to that in 2019 because of concerns about contamination in the organic products being generated. So unfortunately, the contents of your red rubbish bin all goes to landfill.

“This means it costs us more to dispose of your waste, it costs you more in your Domestic Waste Management Charge and it costs the environment dearly.

“With the average rubbish bin in Australia containing about 40 per cent food and organic waste, councils across Australia have been looking for better ways.”

They added that more councils in Sydney were looking at coming on-board with FOGO.

“It’s not new technology, it’s just going to take some adjustment for everyone, they added.

News.com.au has contacted the council for further comment.

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