What is organic waste?

Organic waste is waste that comes from things that were once living, and includes garden and food waste. The services, programs and information Council provides are designed to help reduce food waste, and keep organic waste out of landfill.

Why is it important to keep organic waste out of landfill?

In the mountains, over a third of the waste that ends up in our landfill site at Blaxland from red bins is organic waste. That means one third of landfill doesn’t need to be there. That's important because organic waste becomes a major source of greenhouse gas emissions generating over 20,000 tCO2e (tonnes (t) of carbon dioxide (CO2) equivalent (e)) in 2019-2020. That is the equivalent to the electricity used by over 3,500 houses over a whole year. The more organic waste we can divert from landfill the better it is for our environment.

Nearly all of this organic waste can be avoided, reused or recycled to avoid it ending up in landfill. In the Blue Mountains, you have access to a wide suite of services, programs and information to help manage the organic material generated from your home. 

What options do I have to manage green waste?

Council offers a comprehensive range of green waste services to help households manage green waste and keep it out of landfill. Current services available include:

  1. A fortnightly green bin service – with additional bins available on a user pays basis.
  2. A booked waste service – removal and recycling of up to 8 cubic meters of green waste each year. Additional services are available on a user pays basis.
  3. Green waste can be taken to our two Resource Recovery and Waste Management Facilities (Blaxland and Katoomba) on a user pays basis. 
  4. Subsidised compost bins are available to households. 
  5. Free home composting workshops are available to households.

I want to learn how to avoid creating organic waste, and how to use any organic waste I do make to create free compost for my garden. Where can I learn more?

Council offers free workshops on food waste avoidance, home composting and worm farming. Find out when the next workshops are and register on the Waste & recycling workshops page.

Where does the green waste Council collects go?

All the green waste that Council collects through the fortnightly green bin collections, booked waste service and received directly at the Resource Recovery and Waste Management Facilities is transported to processing facilities. The facilities then screen the material for contamination, chip and then compost the materials. 

The final resource is then sold on to suitable markets including for agricultural and horticultural uses.

Can I have additional green bins?

Yes, additional bins are available for all households on a use pays basis. 
Each bin comes at an additional annual cost that will appear in the ‘Domestic Waste Charge’ on your annual rates notice.  

If you want to arrange an additional green bin, please complete the Bin Form. The annual cost for the additional bin is provided on the form.

Can a tenant request extra bin services?

No, as the charges are applied to the rates notice the owner of the property must complete and sign the form requesting extra bins. 

Can I put food scraps in my green bin?

No, your green bin is for garden organics only. You can only put the following items in your green bin:

  • Grass clippings
  • Weeds (including noxious weeds)
  • Cut flowers
  • Leaves
  • Garden pruning
  • Branches (max. length 40cm, diameter 10cm)
  • Bark
  • Palm fronds
  • Sticks

While food scraps can’t be place in your green bin you can still keep them out of your red bin through home composting and worm farming

What is FOGO?

FOGO stands for ‘Food Organics Garden Organics’. It’s a combined food and garden organic waste management system, designed to reduce the amount of food waste going to landfill. Under this system, food and organic waste (such as fruit, vegetables, meat bones, seafood and animal faeces) can be put into a green bin instead of the red bin. This then can be turned into a nutrient rich compost. 

Please note: we do not currently offer a FOGO services.

When will the Blue Mountains move to FOGO?

The NSW Government has recently announced it will be compulsory for all NSW households to have a FOGO service by 2030.

Our current waste contract for garden organics won’t be renewed until 2026. When the contract is due for renewal, we will pursue a FOGO bin option.

In the meantime we provide a range of services to encourage and help households keep food waste out of their red bin, including workshops, worm farms, and subsidising compost bins and worm farms and an initiative known as Compost Hub, where a neighbour can compost for you.

Why do I automatically get one green bin only?

Every household is automatically given the ‘Standard Waste Service’, which includes one 240litre green bin. The Standard Waste Service is designed to suit the needs of the majority of households. It took over 2.5 years of research, modelling and costing, and we considered over 65 different combinations of waste service options. Each variation included collection frequency, materials collected and treatment options.

Cost was not the only consideration. Risks and benefits of each combination were also evaluated.

We then presented the three final options to households and received an unprecedented response. 9,000 submissions (27% of households) were received. Over two thirds of households supported the introduction of some form of green bin. With most (46%) supporting ‘Option B-Green Bin for Garden Waste Only’.

How much green waste can I put out in my booked service?

You can put out a maximum of 4 cubic meters of tied and bundled green waste out with each booked waste service.

As each household is given two clean ups annually you can also combine your two and put out a total of 8 cubic meters of tied and bundled and tied green waste. The above allocations would include any other bulky household items you have in the size requirements.

What happens to the green waste Council collects as part of the booked waste service?

All the green waste that Council collects through the fortnightly green bin collections, booked waste service and received directly at the Resource Recovery and Waste Management Facilities is transported to processing facilities. The facilities then screen the material for contamination, chip and then compost the materials.

The final resource is then sold on to suitable markets including for agricultural and horticultural uses.

The requirement to tie and bundle and tie green waste in the booked waste service helps ensure we maximise the amount of material that can be recovered. This practice has been successfully diverting green waste from landfill for many years in a number of Local Government Areas.

I have a mobility issue or medical condition that means I can’t bundle or tie my green waste. Is there any help available so I can use the booked waste service?

Yes, absolutely. We will provide assistance, at no charge, to you if you have a mobility issue or a medical condition that prevents you from bundling and tying green waste. All you need to do is submit the ‘Application for Assistance with Bundling and Tying Green Waste’ form. You will have to provide evidence from a registered service provider, case manager or medical specialist to support your application. 

Can I organise extra booked waste services?

Yes. You can get additional booked waste services (above the two allocated per year), for a cost. Please search for ‘bulky’ in Council’s current fees and charges to find the cost. 

The service terms and conditions, including size and volume limits, still apply to paid additional services. You will have to pay the fee before we can allocate you a service date. After you book your additional service, a member of staff will contact you to arrange payment. The fee is the same even if you have less than four cubic metres for collection. 

The collection services aren’t enough, what else can I do with organic waste?

You can take green waste to either of our two Resource Recovery and Waste Management Facilities (located at Blaxland and Katoomba). There is a fee for green waste.

Why isn’t it free to take green waste to the resource recovery facilities?

The collection and processing of all waste, including green waste, costs Council money. Some of the cost Council incurs delivering waste services include taxes, collection costs, maintenance costs, fuel cost, staffing costs, costs associated with infrastructure provision, transport and processing costs. These costs vary for different materials and over time. That means fees and charges may change year to year. We determine fees on a yearly basis (based on the financial year) to reflect the anticipated cost for the year, which are endorsed by the elected Council.

All household waste services, including the Resource Recovery and Waste Management Facilities (Blaxland & Katoomba) operate on a cost recovery basis. That means all the money collected is used to cover the cost of the services we provide. No profit is made.

Why do we collect green waste as part of the Booked Waste Service instead of chipping it on site?

The booked waste service allows you to organise collection of both bulky waste items and green waste as part of one service, making it a one-stop-shop for bulky waste removal. 

Collecting green waste as part of the booked waste service is in line with feedback we’ve received from the community about how they prefer to manage green waste. It also means can take a greater variety of material, including most weed species and older/drier branches that would not be able to be chipped.

We review our services regularly to ensure they’re meeting the needs of the majority of residents, and are financially and environmentally sustainable.