Claims of the city’s green waste being dumped into landfill are unfounded, according to senior council staff.
Rumours swirled after council revealed controversial changes to rubbish collection, including the suggestion that the city’s green waste was going straight into landfill.
Council’s commercial operations manager Caroline Angel said green waste was being mulched and used as “daily cover” on landfill “to minimise odour and prevent waste disposed of in the cell from blowing away”.
“Daily cover is a requirement of the Environment Protection Authority (EPA),” Ms Angel said.
“The City of Wagga would prefer to turn this material into compost, which is why it is seeking to introduce a FOGO collection service and processing as a part of the new kerbside waste collection contract.”
Wagga City Council was given a million dollar grant from the EPA to help transition to a more environmentally-friendly food organics or “FOGO” service, but the changes stirred up public outcry and complaints about a perceived lack of consultation.
Mayor Greg Conkey released a video explaining the changes on Thursday and said they took the environment, the needs of the community and minimising costs into account.
“The new system is designed to either compost or recycle as much garbage as possible, we just can’t continue sending all our garbage to landfill,” Cr Conkey said.
“If we do nothing, we will run out of space at Gregadoo in 80 years, at a cost of tens of millions of dollars to ratepayers.”
According to council, 60 per cent of the weight of general waste was made up of rubbish that could go into recycling or FOGO. But some residents, including Robert Walker, said diagrams showing a shaded bin were potentially misleading.
“It looks like they’re talking about volume, not weight,” Mr Walker said.
“There seems to be the implication there’ll be a huge saving of space but there might not be.”
Ms Angel said a council waste audit conducted in 2011 showed food scraps, garden organics and vegetation made up 60 per cent of the weight of sampled bins.
“Most of it could be processed for compost if the right system is put in place,” she said.
“Visual representations are used as people are more likely to see this than read text and are for illustrative purposes.
“The visual representations accurately represent that household general waste bins are mostly made up of organic material, most of which could be composted under a FOGO collection system.”