What is organic waste?
Organic waste - such as food waste, wood and timber, green waste, biosolids, and organics in general waste bins - is a high priority issue for governments, industry, and the community. Disposal of organic waste in landfill is a significant problem because:
- we lose valuable resources that could be repurposed for other useful products - such as food for human or animal consumption, or compost and soil conditioning products,
- it generates methane, a potent greenhouse gas emission that contributes to climate change, and
- it costs households thousands of dollars each year.
Organic waste in Tasmania
The Tasmanian Draft Waste Action Plan notes that the organic waste stream in Tasmania offers a range of opportunities. There are several industry sectors that could reduce organic waste generation and boost related business, employment, and community opportunities. This includes the bioeconomy (agriculture, aquaculture, agrifood, agritech, biological-cycle based system), food rescue to improve community food resilience, renewable energy, and reducing emissions from organic waste. The Draft Waste Action Plan also included an action to develop an Organic Waste and Resource Recovery Strategy.
In 2021, to better understand current organic waste streams in Tasmania and the opportunities they present, the Department engaged consultants RMCG (partnering with Rawtec, Optimum Standard, and Carbon Clarity) to:
- prepare a research report to identify organic waste streams in Tasmania, expand knowledge about the volume and nature of those organic waste streams, and;
- prepare a strategic framework to identify options and actions for future treatment and uses of organic waste.
The final reports were completed in February 2022:
The research report describes the current (2020) landscape of organic material waste (organics) generation, processing, disposal, and other pathways, including the 2020 Tasmanian Organics Baseline Database.
To provide a brief summary of the key findings within each of the two reports, an Organic Waste in Tasmania Infosheet has been prepared that summarises the current landscape of organic waste generation and recovery; results from future scenario analysis of changed organics generation and material flows; and the recommended key startegic objectives and priority outcomes for organic waste in Tasmania.
Some headline figures from the 2020 Tasmanian organic waste generation and recovery data includes:
Tasmanian organic waste generation and recovery, 2020
| - Core organic waste generation|| - 731.0 ktpa|
| - Non-core organic waste generation|| - 89.0 ktpa|
|Organic waste landfill rate||169.9 ktpa (23% of core waste)|
|Organic recovery rate||561.1 ktpa (77% of core waste), comprising:|
| - Organic waste reuse rate|| - 261.8 ktpa (36% of organic recovery)|
| - Organic recycling rate|| - 246.7 ktpa (34% of organic recovery)|
| - Organic energy recovery rate|| - 52.6 ktpa (7% of organic recovery)|
|Note: Core waste is what is included in national waste data reports. Non-core waste is not included in national reporting, and typically includes waste that is managed on site (stockpiled, spread or buried), or is redistributed food for human consumption. Also excluded from these figures are organic residues that are not collected or consolidated but left in-field or in-situ. This includes inedible or damaged parts or food crops and non-harvest portions of broadacre crops left in-field, orchard or vineyard fruit drop or prunings, and forestry residues left in-situ at harvesting locations.|
The data indicates that while there is already good recovery of much organic material (77%), there is still a significant amount going to landfill (23%), which represents both a lost opportunity and significant greenhouse gas emissions.
For example, diversion of household food organics and garden organics from kerbside residual waste bins (e.g. through improved access to organic recycling services such as kerbside FOGO bins) could reduce Tasmania’s organic waste to landfill by 20-30% and put us in a strong position to achieve our organic waste targets.
Landfill sector summary by broad waste stream, 2020
|Wood and timber||31%||52.9|
|Food waste ||28%||48.3 |
|Organics in kerbside residual bins*||28%||47.4|
Food waste – and what are we doing about it?
The 2020 Tasmanian Organics Baseline Database indicates that food waste (*assuming an average of 60% of organic waste in residual kerbside bins is food waste) makes up around 76.7 kt, or 45%, of the overall 169.9 kt of organic waste to landfill. Most of this food waste to landfill in Tasmania is generated by the commercial sector (e.g., food retailing, hospitality, institutions), households, and the manufacturing sector (e.g., food and beverage producers). Therefore, in Tasmania, food waste is the largest contributor to the total amount of organic waste to landfill.
The National Food Waste Strategy (2017) provides a framework to support collective action towards halving Australia’s food waste by 2030. This national action to halve Australia’s food waste supports the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 12.3: By 2030, halve per capita global food waste at the retail and consumer levels and reduce food losses along production and supply chains, including post-harvest losses.
Stop Food Waste Australia has been established by the Australian Government to support the National Food Waste Strategy, with further information available on their website at Stop Food Waste Australia
. Stop Food Waste Australia will implement the Australian Food Pact
(i.e. Voluntary Agreements), Sector Action Plans, and Communication and Engagement for impact - including a proposed Nationwide Consumer Behaviour Change Campaign (Business Case was submitted to Australian Government on 22 June 2022) - to reduce food waste across the supply chain and halve food waste by 2030.
The Tasmanian Government is partnering with Stop Food Waste Australia to help deliver on Australia’s food waste targets – now, and to 2030 and beyond.
Households and consumers can make some easy changes to help tackle food waste in the home. Some simple and effective household interventions are:
- Improve meal planning and food shopping
- Store food correctly in the fridge and freezer
- Know the difference between ‘best before’ and ‘use-by’ dates
- Eat your leftovers
- Recycle unavoidable food waste. For example, home composting or using the food organics garden organics (FOGO) kerbside bin.
Eat Well Tasmania have partnered with some of Tasmania’s finest chefs and passionate producers to create helpful videos and tasty recipes that will help you to eat well and reduce food waste at home available at the webpage Too Good To Waste
Tasmanian government initiatives to tackle organics and food waste
Some key initiatives and investments from the Tasmanian government to reduce organics and food waste are:
- Tasmanian Organics Research Report and Strategic Framework, including the 2020 Tasmanian Organics Baseline Database
- Waste and Resource Recovery Strategy and Board
- Dulverton Organics Transformation (DOT) – Organics Recycling Facility Upgrade investment (with Australian Government investment)
- Barwick's Boyer In-Vessel Composting Facility - Southern Organics Processing investment (with Australian Government investment)
- Stop Food Waste Australia Partnership