QUESTION: Food Waste

Today in Question Time, Mark asked the Minister for Human Services, representing the Minister for Environment and Water, when the Government will support a weekly collection of domestic food and other organic waste. 


The Hon. M.C. PARNELL: My brief explanation is: the Government is currently seeking submissions from the community about how to divert food waste from landfill. Organic waste in landfill is both an environmental hazard, including the release of greenhouse gases, as well as a missed opportunity for recovery and recycling. The Government has published a strategy entitled 'Valuing Our Food Waste—South Australia's strategy to reduce and divert household and business food waste'. Actions for change framework: one of the proposed actions, with a time line of the year 2022, is the following:

As part of a legislative review processes, consider legislative proposals to harmonise council collection systems and introduce a minimum service across all metropolitan Adelaide councils: fortnightly collection of comingled recyclables and fortnightly collection of organics, including food waste.

In other words, it's business as usual because that's what most councils are already doing. But we know from experience that, whilst increasing numbers of South Australians are embracing their benchtop caddies and are using their green organics bin to dispose of food waste, many people are reluctant to do so because the bin is only collected every two weeks. They are worried about the smell and they are worried about flies. The idea of having a pile of prawn heads or fish waste sitting outside in the bin for two weeks whilst waiting for the fortnightly collection is not what most people are going to do. So that food will continue to go into the general waste bin, and it will go to landfill.

My questions of the Minister are:

Firstly, why on earth is the Government only offering a continuation of the status quo for the foreseeable future and, secondly, when will the Government bite the bullet and support weekly collection of domestic food and other organic waste?

The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK (Minister for Human Services): If I can apply some poetic licence, some of the solutions might include eating the prawn heads. It may well be that the honourable member puts out an awful lot of green waste, although I suspect that in places of high rainfall people do use their green waste quite heavily, particularly in places like the Adelaide Hills. I will get a response from the responsible minister and bring that back to the chamber for him.

Response received September 8, 2020

The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK (Minister for Human Services): The Minister for Environment and Water has advised:

The action in the draft Food Waste Strategy ('Valuing Our Food Waste–South Australia's strategy to reduce and divert household and business food waste') and draft South Australia's Waste Strategy 2020-25 to consider legislative proposals to harmonise council collection services is to standardise services for ratepayers and divert more organic material from landfill.

Under Green Industries SA's Council Modernisation Grants Program, the Government has provided funding to three councils to trial weekly collections of organic material, including food waste. The results of these trials will contribute to actions that will support increased diversion of organic material from landfill for beneficial use.