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Key departmental publications, e.g. annual reports, budget papers and program guidelines are available in our online archive.

Much of the material listed on these archived web pages has been superseded, or served a particular purpose at a particular time. It may contain references to activities or policies that have no current application. Many archived documents may link to web pages that have moved or no longer exist, or may refer to other documents that are no longer available.

On-farm Composting of Municipal and Commercial Organics as an Environmentally and Socially Sustainable Resource Recovery Scheme for Rural Communities

June 2003,
Environment Australia

10 Assessment of Organics Recycling Scheme

After presenting facts and figures about the trialled organics recycling and re-use scheme in previous sections of the report, performance and efficiency of the scheme will be assessed hereafter.

10.1 Collection and Waste Reduction

A detailed account of results achieved with the kerbside collection of municipal garden and kitchen organics in Highfields, was presented in Section 5.

82% participation in the voluntary organics recycling scheme is considered very successful. However, this good result was somewhat diminished by the low rate at which bins were presented for collection. Only 60-65% of bins were put out. It was never established whether this was due to a high number of households never actively participating in the scheme, or whether a high proportion of residents presented their bin only occasionally. Results of a survey conducted after the collection of organics had come to an end suggested that 14% of households had not used their bin and 13% only occasionally (Figure 36). 43% of participating households claimed to have used the organics recycling bin at all times and 30% most times, inferring that 73% of households who received an extra bin were firmly committed to the system.

Level of usage of organics recycling bin

Figure 36 Level of usage of organics recycling bin (December 2002)

Taking a broader view, this meant that only about 60% of all households in the trial area segregated organic garden and kitchen organics from the waste stream and made them available for recycling via the provided bin. This situation made it more difficult to establish waste reduction effects prompted by the organics collection scheme than if every household had participated.

10.1.1 Filling level of collection bins

It has been shown that, by weight, garden and kitchen organics comprise more than 60% of the kerbside collected waste stream in Highfields / BMH (Figure 4). However, on a volumetric basis organic components would be less prominent due to their relatively high bulk density compared to plastics and bulky packaging material. Nevertheless, organics are estimated to still comprise around 40-50% of the volume of waste generated in Highfields. Consequently, diversion of organic material from the grey waste bin to the organics recycling bin (or backyard use) could be expected to result in a noticeable decline in the volume of waste being disposed of in grey bins.

Users of the organics recycling bin were asked whether they had perceived any changes in the amount of waste disposed of in the grey waste bin. 71.6% of households noted a decline in the amount of waste going to landfill, while 28.3% did not notice a difference (Figure 37). Nobody observed an increase in the amount of waste generated during the trial period.

Perceived changes in the amount of waste disposed of in the grey waste bin among users of the organics recycling bin

Figure 37 Perceived changes in the amount of waste disposed of in the grey waste bin among users of the organics recycling bin

These survey results were confirmed by a visual assessment of waste collection bins in October and November 2002. Grey waste collection bins inside and outside the Highfields trial area were assessed visually for their filling level and also for the visible presence of garden or kitchen organics. Bins were inspected at the kerb prior to collection. The proportion to which the bin was filled (percentage) was estimated and any organic material that was visible on the surface of the disposed material in the bin was noted.

The comparison between waste collection bins showed that the average filling level in the non-trial area was recorded at 74.0% and 68.4% in October and November, respectively while corresponding figures for the trial area were recorded at 64.0% and 60.7% (Table 16). This represented a reduction of 13.5% and 11.3% of the average volume of waste being collected from the kerbside in October in November, respectively. It needs to be emphasised that waste bins assessed in the trial area represented a cross-section of all households and not only those that participated actively in the organics recycling scheme. Consequently, it can be assumed that the volume reduction for households that used the organic recycling bin was considerably greater than the observed averages (11.3% and 13.5%).

As shown in Table 16, use of the organics recycling bin also reduced the number of waste bins that showed garden and/or kitchen organics when inspected. The difference amounted to 27.7 percentage points in October (44.4% vs. 16.7%) and 16 percentage points in November (36.3% vs. 20.3%). This is an indication that waste destined for landfilling contained less organic material.

Table 16 Comparison of grey waste collection bins in trial and non-trial areas
 
Oct. 02
Nov. 02
 
No. bins
Filling level
Bins with organics
No. bins
Filling level
Bins with organics
   
%
%
 
%
%
Highfields            
Non-trial area
36
74.0
44.4
113
68.4
36.3
Trial area
90
64.0
16.7
148
60.7
20.3

10.1.2 Composition of kerbside collected waste and recyclables

In order to assess the effect of the organics recycling project on waste going to landfill, two waste audits were conducted in October and November 2002. Results were compared to the benchmark waste composition found in September 2001 (Section 3.1.3), before organics recycling was promoted and introduced in the trial area.

In line with the above demonstrated reduction in the volume of waste going to landfill, it was expected that the organics recycling scheme would result also in a reduction of organic materials being landfilled and, consequently also in a reduction of the total amount of waste being landfilled.

Waste composition figures for both collection areas, Crows Nest and surrounding villages and Highfields / Blue Mountain Heights are shown in Figure and Figure , respectively. All audit results (Sept. 01, Oct. 02 and Nov. 02) from each of the two catchment areas were combined into a single graph for ease of comparison.

Composition of waste collected in Crows Nest and neighbouring villages in Sept. 01, Oct. 02 and Nov. 02

Figure 38 Composition of waste collected in Crows Nest and neighbouring villages in Sept. 01, Oct. 02 and Nov. 02

Composition of waste collected in Highfields / BMH in Sept. 01, Oct. 02 and Nov. 02

Figure 39 Composition of waste collected in Highfields / BMH in Sept. 01, Oct. 02 and Nov. 02

Organic matter levels observed in waste from Crows Nest (Figure 38) were inconsistent. Compared to September 01 when organics comprised 54% of kerbside collected waste, the level of organics declined to 45% in October 02 but rose again to 53% in November. It is worth noting that paper levels showed a complementary trend, resulting in combined organics and paper levels of 72%, 73% and 77% for the three consecutive auditing dates.

This phenomena is even more pronounced in results obtained for Highfields / BMH. Figure 39 shows a substantial decline of organic material contained in the waste stream from 63% in September 01 to 43% in November 02. The observed increase in the level of paper contained in the waste stream from 11% to 29% is complementary to the decline of organic material. The two combined waste fractions represented 74%, 73% and 72% of kerbside collected waste in Highfields / BMH for the September 01, October 02 and November 02 waste audits, respectively.

This demonstrates clearly that waste composition figures alone are of limited value and can give misleading results. Waste composition figures are only able to reveal the relative composition of mixed waste materials. As the total always equals 100%, the decrease of one component (e.g. organics) invariably has to result in the increase of another (e.g. paper), even if the absolute amount remains unchanged. To stay with the situation in Highfields, it would be incorrect to assume that the amount of paper going to landfill had increased 2.6 fold between September 01 and November 02. While the proportion (percentage) of paper in landfilled waste had obviously increased, this was not necessarily true for the absolute amount (tonnage) of paper. A true picture of the situation can be given only if waste composition data are correlated with accurate weighbridge information. If census and service data (number of households and residents, number of services) are available, quantities of disposed and recycled materials can be expressed per household and per capita.

It was the intention of this project to determine absolute amounts of various waste fractions going to landfill by linking waste composition with weighbridge data. This would have allowed, for example, to compare the amount of organics or paper disposed of by each household in the trial and non-trial area and to compare the results to the established benchmark (Sept. 01). However, this attempt was frustrated because the waste collection contractor could not provide a complete set of weighbridge data for three separate waste audits. While the provided weighbridge data were insufficient to perform a detailed analysis and comparison between different collection areas, it was possible to assess the shire's entire waste and recycling streams. This will be done in Section 10.1.3.

Composition of waste material from both trial and non-trial areas was determined to facilitate the above-outlined, ill-fated calculations. Results of waste audits conducted in both areas in October and November 2002 are presented in Figure 40.

Comparison of waste composition in trial and non-trial areas in Highfields

Figure 40 Comparison of waste composition in trial and non-trial areas in Highfields in October (top) and November 2003 (bottom)

Results for both waste audits showed lower organics levels in waste generated in the trial area compared to waste collected in areas where organics were not collected separately. However, differences of two and four percentage points were too small to be considered significant. Other waste fractions were found to show differences of up to eight percentage points between trial and non-trial areas.

Average annual collection figures suggest that the amount of organics collected separately represented 18.4% of the total amount of waste and organics collected from the kerbside in the trial area. Segregation of organic materials on this scale should have been reflected in waste audit data and the subsequent comparison between trial and non-trial area. Without quantitative figures for the various waste fractions, in this case organics, it is not possible to determine conclusively why little difference was observed between the two areas. Nevertheless, three possible reasons can be offered:

  1. the inhomogeneous and inconsistent nature of MSW;
  2. waste from the trial area included material from households that actively participated in the organics recycling project (approx. 60%) and from those that did not participate;
  3. a considerable proportion of organic materials collected separately was not previously disposed of through the grey bin.

The latter reason certainly could have had an impact. This phenomena was reported overseas where Koetter et al. (1992) assumed that kerbside collection of organics would yield approximately 20% more than what was previously disposed of as waste. 37.1% of households in Highfields that used an organics recycling bin reported that home composting and on-site use activities had declined while using the organics recycling bin. However, 59.3% of surveyed households stated that on-site use remained unchanged or even increased. It is also possible that garden material (Ø < 2.5 cm) that was previously taken to landfill was utilised via the organics recycling bin when it became available.

A comparison of the composition of dry recyclables collected inside and outside the trial area also showed relatively little difference except that the level of impurities in the trial area was relatively high at 6%. This was primarily caused by confusion over having two recycling bins and by placing organic material in the wrong one.

Composition of recyclables was relatively uniform in October and November 2003 and seemed more realistic than the benchmark data (September 01), which showed high paper and low glass levels (Figure 41). Impurities were low at levels between 1.3% and 5.5%.

Composition of recyclables collected in Highfields / BMH in Sept. 01, Oct. 02 and Nov. 02

Figure 41 Composition of recyclables collected in Highfields / BMH in Sept. 01, Oct. 02 and Nov. 02

10.1.3 Recycling and waste streams

10.1.3.1 Organics

Collection results have already been presented in the report (Section 5) where it was mentioned that, on average, 1,680kg of organic material was collected per fortnight during the eight-month collection phase, totalling 28,550kg.

To facilitate judgement and comparison of the effectiveness of the trialled organic collection scheme, annual yields per household and per capita were determined. Table 17 shows that the average fortnightly collection yield of 1,680kg represented an annual collection yield of about 137kg per household and 57kg per capita if all 319 households that received a bin, were assumed to have participated actively in the scheme. However, as shown, that was not the case. Based on findings presented in Section 5.1, it was assumed that about 75% of provided organics recycling bins, or 240 bins, were used to collect organic materials. If it was assumed that only some 240 households participated actively in the scheme, annual collection yields per household and per capita would increase to 182kg and 76kg, respectively.

Table 17 Organics collection yield per household / per capita in the trial area
Average quantity collected per fortnight  
1,680kg
No. of bins delivered  
319
Proportion of bins used and emptied  
100%(319 bins)
75%(240 bins)
Quantity collected per household per fortnight
kg/household/fortnight
5.27
7.00
Annual quantity collected per household
kg/household/year
136.93
182.00
Annual quantity collected per capita *
kg/capita/year
57.05
75.83
* Based on average of 2.4 people per household
10.1.3.2 Recyclables

The waste and recycling collection contractor informed Crows Nest Shire that 286,000kg of recyclables were collected from the kerbside in 2001/02. This represented 14.7% of all kerbside collected materials. Nearly identical figures were presented for 2000/01.

Recyclables in Highfields / BMH are collected on a fortnightly basis. However, for operational reasons collection services are provided over a two-week period, split at a ratio of approximately 65:35. Weighbridge data were only obtained for Highfields collection rounds, which were assumed to cover 65% of all recycling services. Consequently, total kerbside recycling quantities were extrapolated on the basis of these data. Collection records for the October and November 2002 waste audits suggested that approximately 291,000kg of recyclables were collected in Highfields / BMH annually. Based on the quantity of all materials collected from the kerbside, including separately collected organics during the trial period, the amount of recovered dry recyclables represents 20.14%. The equivalent figure for the whole shire stands at 13.76%.

Kerbside recycling services are not available to all shire residents; only 2,071 households have access to this service. As the recycling service is compulsory, it can be assumed that all households make use of it. This was confirmed by results of a survey conducted among Highfields / BMH households (Section 3.2.1). Consequently, annual collection yields for dry recyclables can be determined at approximately 141kg per household and 59kg per capita (Table 18). In comparison, rural municipalities in Victoria collected 167kg per household in 2001/02 and the two rural best practice councils achieved an average yield of 185kg per household (Victorian Jurisdictional Recycling Group, 2002).

Current Highfields collection yields for recyclables are more or less identical to the collection yield achieved for organics. However, organics collection yields are considerably higher if the more realistic participation rate of 75% in the organics recycling scheme is used as a basis for comparison.

Table 18 Recycling collection yield per household / per capita in Highfields /BMH
Quantity collected per year*  
291,200kg
No. of services  
2,071
Proportion of bins used and emptied  
100% (2,071 bins)
Annual quantity collected per household
kg/household/year
140.61
Annual quantity collected per capita **
kg/capita/year
58.59
* Based on two audits in Highfields in October and November 2002, assumed to represent 65% of all services
** Based on average of 2.4 people per household
10.1.3.3 Waste

The waste collection contractor told the shire that 1,664 tonnes of waste were collected in 2001/02, while our data suggested that 1,779 tonnes of waste were collected per year. If the organic material that was collected separately during the eight-month trial was assumed otherwise to be part of the normal waste stream, and taken into account (pro rata), the total amount of waste collected per year would increase to 1,823 tonnes. About 37.5% of waste was generated in Crows Nest and surrounding villages and the remainder in Highfields / BMH.

Table 19 shows that households in Crows Nest and surrounding villages presented substantially more waste for collection (850kg/hh/year) than families in Highfields / BMH, which disposed of 502kg of waste per year in their grey bins. Such a large difference in the amount of waste generated per household between the two areas cannot be explained readily, even though there are three possible contributing factors:

When quantities of collected recyclables were taken into account, the total amount of waste and recyclables collected annually in Highfields / BMH increased to 653kg per household or 272kg per capita (see Table 20).

It is possible that household sizes in the two areas are profoundly different. Crows Nest and surrounding villages represent predominantly rural communities while Highfields / BMH displays a more suburban character. However, as no data were available that would have allowed differentiation between the two areas in this respect, all calculations were based on the shire average of 2.4 people per household.

Table 19 Waste collection yield per household / per capita in various shire areas
Area  
Crows Nest + villages
Highfields / BMH
Shire ∧
No. of services  
786
2,214
3,000
Quantity collected per year
t/year
668.2
1,110.7
1,778.9
Annual quantity collected per household
kg/hh/year
850.13
501.68
592.97
Annual quantity collected per capita *
kg/capita/year
354.22
209.03
247.07
∧ Includes only households that receive a waste collection service
* Based on average of 2.4 people per household
10.1.3.4 Summarised overview

In order to present a more comprehensive picture of the quantities of waste and recyclables collected within Crows Nest Shire, data contained in previous sections was summarised in Table 20. Organic materials collected within the Highfields Organic Recycling Project were considered also and extrapolated to obtain an annual collection yield (44 t/year).

It can be seen that 2,114 tonnes of material were collected from 3,000 households in the shire: 1,779 tonnes of waste, 44 tonnes of organics and 291 tonnes of recyclables, which represent 13.77% of the total. However, this figure is not very relevant since kerbside recycling is not available to all of the 3,000 households. What is more relevant is the recycling rate for Highfields / BMH at 20.14% and a recycling performance of 59kg per person per year. The collection yield for organics is considerably higher at 76kg per capita per year.

In contrast, each person in Highfields / BMH disposed of 209kg of waste per year via the kerbside collection service. Waste collection rates in Crows Nest and surrounding villages are substantially higher, at an average of 354kg per person. The shire average amounted to 247kg of waste collected per year from each resident. The quantity of collected material increased to a total of 294kg when recyclables were accounted for also. This is almost identical with the Queensland average of 292kg of waste and recyclables collected annually from each resident, including kerbside collection as well as drop-off recycling (EPA, 2003).

Table 20 Quantities of kerbside collected waste and recyclables in Crows Nest Shire
 
Crows Nest
Highfields
Shire *
Waste
Total t/yr
668
1,111
1,779
Per household kg/hh/yr
850
502
593
Per capita kg/capita/yr
354
209
247
Recycling (dry recyclables)
Total t/yr
-
291
291
Per household kg/hh/yr
-
144
97
Per capita kg/capita/yr
-
59
40
Recycling (organics) **
Total t/yr
-
44
44
Per household ∧ kg/hh/yr
-
182
-
Per capita ∧ kg/capita/yr
-
76
-
Waste + Recycling ∧∧
Total t/yr
658
1,446
2,114
Per household kg/hh/yr
850
653
705
Per capita kg/capita/yr
354
272
294
* Areas with collection service only = 3,000 households
** Extrapolated to annual amount from results of eight month collection trial
∧ Based on active participation of 240 households
∧∧ Per household and per capita figures for Highfields do not represent the sum of the waste and recycling columns as the number of waste and recycling services differ.

It is well understood and documented (see Section 3.1.3.3) that the amount of waste that is collected from the kerbside represents only a fraction of the total waste stream in local authority areas. Apart from kerbside collected municipal solid waste (MSW) there is also self-hauled domestic waste that residents take directly to disposal sites and there is commercial and industrial waste that is delivered to landfill.

In Table 21 an attempt was made to quantify all waste disposed of at landfill sites in Crows Nest Shire. Reliable disposal quantities were only available for kerbside collected MSW. Quantities of waste delivered to disposal sites were estimated independent of data provided by the shire that suggest total disposal figures of 5,500 tonnes (see Table 2).

Table 21 Quantities (t/year) of waste disposed of at landfills in Crows Nest Shire

Category Quantity
Kerbside collected MSW 1,779
Delivered - residents * 3,500
Delivered - commercial * 2,000
Total 7,279
* estimate

Despite the above outlined shortcomings, it was estimated that more than 7,200 tonnes of waste was disposed of in landfill sites in Crows Nest Shire every year. This represents a total annual waste generation rate of 708kg for each shire resident. EPA (2003) reported that average annual waste generation in Queensland, not including biosolids, hazardous waste and landfill cover, amounted to 797kg/capita.

10.2 Costs and Economics

10.2.1 Collection

10.2.1.1 Waste and recyclables

Costs for the collection of waste materials and recyclables often represent a major share in overall waste management and recycling costs. This is no different in Crows Nest Shire. A breakdown of collection costs is provided in Table 22.

Table 22 Collection costs for waste and recyclables in Crows Nest Shire
 
Costsper bin *
No.of bins
Collections per year
Costs
per year
per tonne
per hh
 
$/collection
   
$/year
$/t
$/hh
Waste collection
0.8826
3000
52
137,685.60
77.40
45.90
Recycling collection **
1.4494
2071
26
78,044.39
268.19
37.68
* service charge includes provision and maintenance of bins ** includes sorting of co-mingled recyclables at Materials Recycling Facility in Toowoomba

Total costs paid for the collection of waste and recyclables from the kerbside amounted to more than $215,000 per year, 63.8% of which was incurred by the collection of waste and 36.2% by the collection of recyclables. These service charges included provision and maintenance of bins. Collection of waste was charged at a rate of $0.8826 per bin per collection while respective costs for the collection of recyclables were charged at $1.4494. Collection costs for recyclables were higher than waste collection costs as they included also charges for sorting of co-mingled recyclables at an MRF in Toowoomba. It was not possible to apportion the two cost factors, as the contractor was not willing to provide this kind of information. In fact, Crows Nest Shire Council provided all information related to collection costs as the contractor was unwilling to provide commercially sensitive information.

Collection costs per tonne of material amounted to $77.40 for waste and $268.19 for recyclables (including processing). Costs per household were calculated to be $45.90 for waste and $37.68 for recyclables (again, including processing). Average collection and processing costs for dry recyclables in rural Victorian municipalities are reported to be $176 per tonne; the two best performing schemes incur costs of $145 per tonne (Victorian Jurisdictional Recycling Group, 2002).

10.2.1.2 Organics

The collection of organic materials during the Highfields Organic Recycling Project was charged at a rate of $1.5942 per bin per collection. This rate was higher than that charged for the collection and sorting of recyclables, even though it covered only collection costs. The contractor justified high collection costs by relatively high costs imposed by the short term and small-scale nature of the project. It is expected that collection costs would be substantially lower if organics were collected regularly and on a larger scale. However, the contractor was not willing to provide indicative collection costs for that event.

Collection of organic material within the framework of the trial incurred costs of $275.29 per tonne. However, collection costs of $1.5942 per organics recycling bin were unrealistically high.

10.2.2 Processing

In the previous section it was stated that collection costs for recyclables included sorting costs at a MRF in Toowoomba. However, costs for sorting of co-mingled recyclables without the collection component were not revealed. To provide some guidance it can be said that processing of recyclables in Brisbane accounts for 37% of combined collection and processing expenditure (Cade, 2003). If processing costs were assumed to range between 30% and 40% of total costs, post-collection costs of recyclables would range between approximately $125 and $165 per tonne. Nolan ITU (2001) provided average sorting costs of $143 for small MRFs with a processing capacity of 20,000 tonnes per year.

Organics processing costs through on-farm composting were detailed in Section 9.1.2 and were shown to range between $10 and $25 per tonne.

10.2.3 Landfilling

Crows Nest Shire is operating six landfill sites plus a small tip at 'Palm Tree'. Following its closure, the landfill site in Crows Nest has been transformed into a transfer station.

As shown in Table 23, current operating costs for all disposal sites in Crows Nest Shire amounted to almost $183,000 per year. The lion's share of this amount ($155,137) was incurred by land maintenance work, which covers all earthmoving activities on site, including 'daily cover' (tip face is not covered daily but at regular intervals).

Table 23 Operating costs ($) for landfill sites in Crows Nest Shire in 2002/03 *

Landfill sites Costs 2002/03 *
Crows Nest (now transfer station)
Tip operations 1,817.01
Land Maintenance 32,466.28
Geham
Tip operations 22,552.95
Land Maintenance 51,826.55
Kleinton
Tip operations 2,796.88
Land Maintenance 52,463.79
Ravensbourne
Tip operations 102.53
Land Maintenance 5,646.55
Haden
Tip operations 562.36
Land Maintenance 8,806.93
Emu Creek
Land Maintenance 3,753.15
Palm Tree
Land Maintenance 173.83
Total 182,968.80
* Extrapolated from expenditure accrued between 1. 7. 2002 to 31. 3. 2003

In the previous section it was shown that an estimated 7,300 tonnes of waste are disposed of annually at landfill in Crows Nest Shire. This incurs operating costs of approximately $183,000, or just over $25 per tonne. If lower disposal estimates provided by council (5,500 t/year) were used, disposal costs would be above $33 per tonne. However, disposal of waste at landfill incurs more than just operational costs. Gillespie (2003) suggested that disposal fees of $60 - $101 per tonne would need to be charged in the ACT and surrounding rural areas, if landfill fees were to reflect the full costs of landfill. According to his data, the following costs were incurred in addition to normal operating costs:

Not all of these costs, or not to the full extent, would apply to landfills in Crows Nest Shire but it can be assumed that full costs of landfilling in the shire would be higher than the above calculated $25 or $33 per tonne.

10.3 Resident's experience

With recycling schemes it is not only important that the technical system operates smoothly, that the collected materials contain little impurities and that the generated end products are of good quality and readily used, but it is also critically important that residents and businesses are happy with the recycling scheme and the way it works.

Once the kerbside collection of organics had stopped, a telephone survey was conducted among shire residents in order to assess the experience of participating households and to learn about the view of the wider community about the Highfields Organic Recycling Project. The survey covered 69 households that had received an organics recycling bin and were subjected to the education campaign and 74 households that did not participate in the organics recycling project.

Some of the survey results were presented earlier in this report where appropriate.

Education and motivation of participating residents are key factors for the success or otherwise of a recycling scheme that relies on the segregation of desirable resources at source. Consequently it was of interest to learn about the main sources of information for participants.

Figure 42 demonstrates that the information brochure that was distributed to all households in the designated area was the main source of information for residents. The information brochure was also rated as the most important and useful source of information. The Council newsletter was also an important source of information and it seems that through the initial doorstep visit it was possible to inform more than 63% of households personally about the organics recycling scheme.

Shire residents that lived outside the trial area obtained information about the Highfields Recycling Project mainly from newspapers (45.2%), from the Council Newsletter (35.5%) and from neighbours and friends (29.0%). What people had heard about the organics recycling scheme was predominantly positive (59.4%), predominantly neutral (28.1%) or predominantly factual (9.4%). Nobody had heard anything negative about the scheme.

Information sources utilised by participating households

Figure 42 Information sources utilised by participating households

Error! Reference source not found. provides insight into the type of organic materials that residents recycled via the organics collection system. Indicative results obtained in a mini survey conducted in July 2002 (Section 5.1) were largely confirmed by this survey, which was based on a larger household sample. Results in Figure 43 show that most households (66.1%) used the organics collection system to recycle raw fruit and vegetables. It appears that, compared to results obtained in the earlier survey, the proportion of households that utilised the organics recycling bin for the disposal of cooked food (20.3%), fish and meat leftovers (8.6%) and bread (31%) had declined. Differences observed in the proportion of garden materials collected in the organics recycling bin are most likely due to the difference in seasons when the two surveys were conducted. This survey, conducted in summer, showed that the most popular garden materials collected for recycling in the organics bin were weeds and dead plants (64.4%), leaves (55.9%) and tree prunings (49.2%). Only one in three households recycled lawn clippings in this way.

Popularity of the organics recycling bin for the disposal of various organic materials

Figure 43 Popularity of the organics recycling bin for the disposal of various organic materials

The proportion of households that experienced problems with the organics recycling scheme and the severity of these problems are important factors in determining the success of the system and the long-term support from participants. The survey revealed that 64% of all households that participated in the organics recycling scheme did not experience any problems while 31% did experience difficulties with the organics collection scheme (Figure 43). Of those households that had experienced difficulties, more than half (52.6%) were unhappy about the fact that the organics recycling bin was too small (Figure 44). This represented 16.4% of all interviewed households. To be fair, the average filling level of organic bins amounted to only 64% and 67% when assessed in September and October 2002. Many bins however were full when collected. In addition, 21.1% (6.6% of total) did not like the collection day being different from their usual collection day and the same proportion thought that the collection interval should have been weekly rather than fortnightly. This latter view was possibly caused by unpleasant experiences with odours and flies/maggots, which were experienced by 31.6% and 21.1% of households with problems, respectively, or 9.8% and 6.6% of all participating households.

Figures 44 and 45

The major problems experienced by the community were related to bin size and timing of the collection. These problems can be easily rectified in any future scheme. Problems with odours and flies/maggots are more difficult to deal with. People were asked to wrap kitchen organics in paper to minimise this problem. And indeed, at levels of less than 10%, problems with odour and flies were not widespread.

In general, participants were quite happy with the overall performance of the Highfields Organic Recycling Project. On a scale from 1 to 10 with 1 being the lowest and 10 being the highest score, 77.8% of participants rated the project 8 or better.

10.4 Future Perspectives

The Eastern Downs Regional Organisation of Councils (EDROC) is currently in the process of developing a regional waste management strategy. As a member of EDROC Crows Nest Shire Council is involved in this process and consequently needs to integrate its own future waste management and recycling activities into the broader framework of the regional strategy.

Development of the strategy was not yet at an advanced stage and it appeared that the community was not well informed yet about the involvement of their shire in this process. Only 22% of residents were aware that Crows Nest Shire Council, together with neighbouring local authorities, were developing a regional waste management strategy, while 77% claimed never to have heard about it. Consequently, not many people had a clear idea of what they would like to see as an outcome of the future waste management strategy. Responses showed very diverse expectations. However, the desire for more recycling, including organics recycling was expressed most often.

With respect to potential future developments, people were also asked whether they would approve or disapprove of specific recycling and waste management options. Results are shown in Figure and it can be seen that the approval rating for most proposed options was relatively high, regardless of whether it concerned improved support for home composting (average of 90%) or establishment of a new landfill site (average of 76%). Answers to the same question that were received at the beginning of the project were a lot more differentiated and the provided options generally gained lower approval ratings (see Figure 17).

Approval rating for potential future recycling and waste management options

Figure 46 Approval rating for potential future recycling and waste management options

Opinions were relatively uniform regardless of whether households had used the organics recycling scheme or not. Notable differences were only found in the support for local on-farm composting and for a user pays system for waste collection services. More users than non-users of the organics recycling scheme supported local on-farm composting (96% vs. 79%) while the reverse was the case for the user pays system (57% vs. 75%). Across the board, the following three proposed activities received the highest approval ratings:

As one of the nine potential future activities, kerbside collection of organics received an average approval rating of 89.4%. To obtain more detailed information about this option, people were specifically asked whether they could envisage the organics recycling scheme becoming a permanent service. 73% of all households saw this as a distinct possibility (Figure 47). In addition, 17.6% of organics recycling scheme users could see this option becoming reality if certain conditions applied, namely no additional costs, larger bins, weekly collection and the availability of mulch and compost. 8.8% of organics recycling scheme users and 16.4% of non-users could not envisage this service becoming a permanent feature of recycling services offered by Crows Nest Shire Council.

The picture changed to some degree when householders were asked whether they would be willing to participate in an organics recycling scheme in the future. People who had gained first hand experience with the organics recycling scheme (users) were more willing to be part of such a scheme than those who had only heard about it. Including conditional consent (yes, if…), 91.1% of organic recycling bin users would be willing to participate in a future organic recycling scheme while only 70.8% of non-users showed the same preparedness. Rejection to participate personally had increased to 27.8% among non-users while it remained unchanged among those people who had used the system previously.

Support for the organics recycling scheme becoming a permanent service

Figure 47 Support for the organics recycling scheme becoming a permanent service

Willingness to participate in potential future organics recycling scheme

Figure 48 Willingness to participate in potential future organics recycling scheme

It was encouraging to see such strong support for the organics recycling system from households that had used it previously. This demonstrates that residents were happy with the organics recycling scheme and that none of the problems encountered during the trial were seen as a major deterrent. However, the reduced support for personal participation of residents who had no first hand experience suggests that misconceptions and prejudices about this type of organics recycling scheme exist within the community.