KEEPING OUR WINTERS COOL IS NO RUBBISH 7 July 2016

The unique Living Bin program, which has pioneered food recycling at the alpine resorts in North East Victoria since 2010, has recommenced for the 2016 winter season.  

The program operates at the three alpine resorts in North East Victoria including: Mt Buller/Mt Stirling, Falls Creek and Mt Hotham. The Living Bin program involves the separation and collection of food waste from businesses, lodges and apartments during the peak, winter season (and at Mt Buller, year-round). The material is then transferred to specialised containers and sent to an organics processing facility. Within 50 days the food waste goes from food scraps to beautiful, rich compost.

The Living Binprogram is a joint initiative between 4SITE Australia P/L, the North East Waste and Resource Recovery Group and the Alpine Resorts, which first began as a trial in 2010 (partially funded with the support of Sustainability Victoria TZW grant). The success of that original trial has seen the ongoing collection and processing of food waste at each of the alpine resorts continue as part of the alpine resort’s waste management operations each peak season, and in some cases, the program operates all year round.

The results of the Living Bin program speak volumes, collectively since the beginning of the program: 400 tonnes of food waste, which otherwise would have been sent to landfill, has been composted. The results demonstrate that the alpine resorts in north east Victoria are playing their part in protecting their sensitive environments and keeping winters cool. As Louise Perrin, Environmental Services Manager from Mt Buller Mt Stirling Resort Management explains: “when food waste ends up in landfill it releases harmful gases which contribute to climate change, food waste is the largest contributor to Victoria’s carbon footprint. In terms of eliminating carbon emissions keeping food waste out of landfill, and 400 tonnes of it, is one of the best ways to positively influence climate change”.

The Living Bin program is unique for several reasons: it is first program of its kind in Australia to both establish an organics diversion system in alpine areas, and trial the viability of on-site organics processing. These major achievements demonstrate that organic waste in Australian alpine areas can be dealt with when industry, resort management and government work in partnership. The fact that the program operates in major tourist destinations throughout peak season with a highly transient population, with fluctuations of material volumes and type present particularly unique challenges. The Living Bin program demonstrates what can be achieved when leaders are prepared to pioneer ideas and work collaboratively to achieve specific outcomes.

Similarly, the fact that all participants in the program are voluntary, and mostly businesses, is also unique to the program.  There are several hundred participants in the Living Bin program each season and each of the participants demonstrate a willingness to adapt their processes and actually be part of the change needed to benefit the environment.

“It is great to see people starting to realize that waste, particularly food waste, has real environmental consequences. When we take food waste out of the waste stream and turn it into compost material we have two direct benefits: we reduce landfill which helps the environment and also turn, so called ‘waste’ into a valuable product”, said Perrin.

Anyone wishing to participate in the Living Bin program this season can contact their Environmental Officer through their Alpine Resort Management Office.

Media contact:

Contact:  ARMB for specifics relating to information specific to each Alpine Resort

Contact: Rob McDonald (4SITE) for data/operational/service/technical related enquires. M: 0407411417

Email: rmcdonald@4siteaustralia.com

Contact: Kim Mueller (NEWRRG) for general program media/educational/promotional enquires. M: 0409 306 183 Email: kim.mueller@newrrg.vic.gov.au