What is FOGO?

Posted on: July 13, 2020

You might have heard the term “FOGO” pop up in the past year when discussion turns to waste, but do you know what it actually means?

A NEW Three-bin System

FOGO – or Food Organics and Garden Organics - is often used when talking about a three-bin system where any waste that once lived (like food scraps and garden waste) is diverted from landfill and then processed to make into compost for use in parks, gardens and in agriculture settings.  

It's a relatively new approach to waste management in Western Australia. FOGO, because it also diverts large volumes of food waste, goes a step further than the 'green waste' bin that some, but not all WA councils and shires, have had in operation over the past decade.  

The FOGO bin, with its lime green lid, is supplied to residents together with a yellow-topped recycling bin and a smaller red-topped bin for general waste. The FOGO bin is typically collected each week, while recycling and general waste are collected on alternate weeks. 

Take a video tour of the Bunbury-Harvey Regional Council's organics processing facility! .

Transcript - What is FOGO?

The below text is a transcript of the video "So What is FOGO?".

[a rubbish truck collects rubbish from lime green-lidded FOGO bin.]

Hello my name is Jai Pearce and I’m from the Bunbury-Harvey regional council and I’m the supervisor here at the organics processing facility. [Man speaking, followed by aerial view of the organics processing plant where several large piles of compost can be seen]

So what is FOGO? Food organics and Garden organics that’s collected from your garden at home or commercial businesses that can go into your lime green, organics bin [A woman in her kitchen places organic waste into a compostable bench-top bin. The same woman is then seen pruning a hedge outside

So I’d just like to run you through the process. At home your food scraps and garden waste will be placed in your bin and then put out onto your verge. [The woman is seen depositing a compostable bin bag, then garden waste in the FOGO bin before moving it to the verge, where a truck later collects it.]

Once the truck’s full it comes to the composting facility where it’s tipped onto Stage Zero onto aerators and stockpiled up to one month. [Truck unloads organic waste into a pile at the composting facility, we then see an aerator running large pipes into several piles of organic waste.]

After that one month, the compost is then moved via loader so it helps the microbes activate which then help break down the compost and starts the process. As part of the Australian Standards, the loader then picks up the compost and rolls it five times. This helps the product to be pasteurised. The pasteurisation stage kills all the weeds and seeds and makes it safe for you back to use it back at home or in a commercial environment. [A loader is shown moving a pile of compost, we then see a sprinkler watering piles of compost.

The next stage is to screen the compost to get rid of all the contaminants like plastic, glass, toasters and all those unwanted items that we receive from your bins. [We see a machine with a conveyer belt, compost is falling off the end of the belt, suggesting that contaminates have been captured by the machine.]

The compost is then mature and ready for testing to the Australian Standards and the Australian Organics Certification. The product then is ready for sale and is ready for use. [Shots of compost followed by a man walking over to a large pile of compost and picking up a handful in both hands.]

So what can you do to help us at the organics facility? [The man tips the compost from his hands back into the pile.]

Please don’t put any plastic, glass or unwanted non-organics into your bin. Either select the yellow top bin or the red-top bin for those items. [A pile of compost with contaminants in it is shown.]

Thank you.


What's the value of FOGO collections?

Compostable materials (ie food and garden organics) are estimated to make up somewhere between 25% and 65% of the waste WA households throw away each week. Once composted, these organics can be used to help improve soil quality  and reduce water use. A much better outcome than sending it to landfill!


So what goes in a FOGO Bin

All food scraps, including fruit, vegetables processed foods, meat, bones and leftovers, can go in this bin. So can grass clippings, flowers, weeds, herbs, small branches and leaves.

This bin will be composted so you can also put small amounts of paper towels and compostable plates in there too, but it’s essential to keep plastic, aluminium, glass and anything labelled ‘biodegradable’ out.

One way to think about it is: If it didn’t grow, or it wasn’t alive it’s not FOGO


Where does FOGO gO?

The contents of FOGO bins are generally transported to a nearby waste composting facility where they are turned into compost. Diverting food waste from landfill in this manner can reduce greenhouse gas emissions and groundwater pollution risks, as well as lessen the appeal of landfill sites for pests as there is less food on offer for them.


How is FOGO different to my home compost?

Although it can differ between local government areas, most FOGO bins accept items which aren’t usually compatible with home composting systems, such as bones, meat and seafood.


FOMO for FOGO?

FOGO is still relatively new in WA, but its presence is growing and it is proving to be a GREAT way for householders and local government alike to reduce their waste! 

The State Government is committed to encouraging all councils in the Perth and Peel regions to provide FOGO services to households by 2025.

If FOGO isn’t coming to your neighbourhood soon, why not take matters into your own hands and take a look at how you can become a home composting champion!

Keep reading