Key detail in council’s major bin rollout stuns residents: 'Take note'

The difference sounds small but has meant a significant change in responses from residents.

Food organics and garden organics (FOGO) bins have been the source of controversy in many local governments across the country after their introduction meant general rubbish bin collections were in most cases pulled back to fortnightly.

Feedback from that community in one council area has so far seemed vastly different to responses from residents in other areas, with outrage and frustration replaced with thanks and praise. "Community response to the new service has been overwhelmingly positive," a Fairfield Council spokesperson told Yahoo News Australia of its western Sydney initiative.

The difference? Fairfield has decided to leave general rubbish bins the same size and with the same weekly pick-up schedule, even after starting their FOGO collections.

Left image is of Mayor of Fairfield Frank Carbone announcing the move to the green bins. Right image is of a FOGO bin on the street.
Mayor of Fairfield Frank Carbone (pictured) announced the move to the green bins this year. Source: Facebook

The seemingly small detail caused immense controversy in the Inner West Council previously, which rolled out FOGO bins in late 2023 and received an onslaught of backlash from residents reporting overflowing bins and "rotting food" left due to reduced general rubbish removal.

So much was the backlash that the Inner West Council voted to reinstate a "free, opt-in" weekly collection of general rubbish months after the original implementation.

Reason for keeping weekly general rubbish removals

Fairfield Council explained their local government area (LGA) has "the largest families per household compared with the rest of NSW". "That is why we decided to leave general waste bins the same size and picked up weekly," the spokesperson said.

With the size of families in mind, the LGA says they provide "the largest and most frequent general waste bin service" with "some of the lowest waste charges". The council hopes residents embrace the new FOGO service so it can contribute to lowering rubbish collection costs even further.

"Green waste and food waste costs much less to recycle than going to landfill, and this will keep our waste charges low."

When asked if they will eventually move to fortnightly general rubbish collections like other councils, the spokesperson said, "Any wider change would be guided by the future needs of Fairfield City households."

Residents celebrate 'no change to red bin'

The western Sydney residents living within Fairfield City Council have shared their praise for the FOGO rollout in local groups after green bins began to appear in the area over the last two months.

"Can't wait for the green bin to arrive. Thank you Fairfield Mayor for taking note of what the residents asked for — no change in the red bin," one responded excitedly after the Council shared information about the change online.

"So happy the red bins still stay the same but we get a green waste bin, we are very lucky to live in a community," another exclaimed.

While those from councils nearby claimed to be envious of the Fairfield rollout, tagging their councils so they could "take note". "Liverpool City Council take note! The red bins remained the same size! Not like ours," one said.

Just one of the Australian councils introducing FOGO

FOGO bins are being rolled out council by council as they look to meet the federal government's target of halving the amount of organic waste sent to landfills by 2030.

Most who have added the new bin for food organics, like in Bassendean in Western Australia and the Yarra Ranges in Victoria have also reduced general rubbish removals, causing "teething issues" in the introduction.

The 2019 National Waste Action Plan, where FOGO is derived from, drives the implementation of seven targets, including the below:

  • Reduce total waste generated by 10% per person by 2030

  • Recover 80% of all waste by 2030

  • Phase out problematic and unnecessary plastics by 2025

  • Halve the amount of organic waste sent to landfill by 2030

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