Food Recycling in the Alps

The expansion of the award winning ‘Living Bin’ project fires up for another snow season

The award winning ‘Living Bin’ project which saw the Alpine resorts in North East Victoria take up a food recycling as a trial back in the snow season of 2010, will once again fire up this snow season. The original trial was part of Sustainability Victoria’s Towards Zero Waste grants, and now is an ongoing program offered within the Alpine resorts.

The Living Bin program entails the separation of food waste from other waste which is then collected from businesses, lodges and apartments.  The material is then transferred to a specialised container and then sent to a local specialized organics processing facility.  Within 50 days the food waste goes from food scraps to beautiful, rich compost.

For the last four snow seasons the Alpine resorts in North East Victoria: Falls Creek, Mt Buller, Mt Hotham and Alpine Shire’s village Dinner Plain have proved they are on the cutting edge of sustainable practices and were duly recognized for their efforts at the ‘2011 Tidy Towns Sustainable Communities Awards’ by being awarded the TZW (Towards Zero Waste) award.  Late last year the project was one again celebrated another win by taking out the State Government section of the Premier’s Sustainability Awards 2012.

The success of the trial has meant the collection and processing of food waste at the Alpine resorts has now become a program which will continue to run.

“Not only have we now collected over 300 tonnes of food waste since the beginning of the project and composted it, we have seen a dramatic shift in thinking and attitudes generally towards waste and recycling” said Mr McDonald, Director of 4SITE Australia, “we have also seen a 8 to 10% increase in recycling across all the resorts which is a phenomenal result”.  On top of that, results show a reduction in both the amount of waste produced and contamination levels.  In terms of eliminating CO2 emissions, diverting over 200 tonnes of food waste from landfill approximately equals 3 million black balloons.

Kim Mueller, NEWRRG’s Project Officer said: “It is great to see people starting to realize that waste, particularly food waste, has real environmental ramifications.   When food waste ends up in landfill as it releases harmful gases that contribute to climate change, food waste is the largest contributor to Victoria’s Carbon Footprint…most people are becoming aware that by taking food waste out of the garbage stream and turning it into compost material we have two direct benefits: we reduce landfill which therefore helps the environment and also turn so called waste into a valuable product.”

Anyone wishing to participate in the Alpine food trial next year can contact their Environmental Officer through the Resort Management Board or in the case of Diner Plain contact the Alpine Shire Office.

FAST FACTS

  • One third of the food we buy we throw away.
  • The average Victorian spends $1200 a year on wasted food (this is the cost of an average season pass at the snow!).
  • The largest contributor to Victoria’s footprint is food, contributing to 37% of Victoria’s footprint (this includes food production, processing, packaging and transport).
  • About 1 tonne of food waste sent to landfill = 15,000 black balloons.
  • 50% of the waste tipped at landfill from the Alpine Resorts is food waste.