Fired up CEO: A mistake

A LOCAL resident who’s also the CEO of a southern council about to incinerate its waste, says Vincent council shouldn’t bother with FOGO.

Stephen Cain’s day job is heading up Cockburn council, but he fronted Vincent’s public question time on Tuesday as a resident to voice his concerns about the three-bin system.

His plea fell on deaf ears, and afterwards councillors unanimously voted to roll out FOGO in 2020.

“The City of Vincent is making a mistake with this option,” Mr Cain says.

Armed with a sheet of facts and figures he argued the cost would be huge and there would be too many downsides.

Cockburn council has a third bin, but it only takes garden waste. The FOGO bin would accept food too.

He says processing just the garden waste can be done quite cheaply, at about $65 a tonne.

“There’s a ready market for that … but to get the food out is very expensive,” Mr Cain said.

He says a better option is to take the non-garden waste and put it through a waste-to-energy incinerator. W2E incinerators are pretty common overseas and he says the modern techniques are very environmentally friendly.

Economical

“All of that energy is regained, and you only end up with 5 per cent of the residual product going to landfill,” Mr Cain said.

“It’s a very economical and a very environmentally friendly alternative.”

Vincent’s business case for the new system states the general waste bin is planned to only be collected every two weeks. FOGO is collected every week, but anything that can’t go in that bin will languish for up to a fortnight,

“If you’re a young family with children, you’re going to have two weeks’ worth of nappies in your bin,” Mr Cain says.

Vincent mayor Emma Cole said the council had investigated the waste-to-energy option, but it was further down the “waste hierarchy”, which advocated re-use of waste via composting, before resorting to recovering energy from it.

In February the state government announced a new waste strategy calling for “all Perth and Peel households to move to the three-bin FOGO system by 2025”, using “financial mechanisms”, which could be incentives to adopt the system or steeper levies for every tonne sent to landfill.

Ms Cole says they’ll ultimately have to go FOGO and adopting it early gives them plenty of time to consult with locals and iron out any issues.

Mr Cain says the state government does not have a mechanism to enforce FOGO, and if a council’s already sending their waste to a W2E plant come 2025, then stiff landfill levies will have little impact on them.

by DAVID BELL

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