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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 05 Hansard (Tuesday, 11 May 2021) . . Page.. 1315 ..

According to International Compost Awareness Week Australia, approximately 50 per cent of the rubbish that we put into our mixed waste bin could be used in our gardens as compost or mulch. Approximately 33 per cent of this rubbish is food organics, including peelings, and about 10 per cent is garden vegetation. This material, when buried anaerobically—without air—in landfill, causes over three per cent of Australia’s total greenhouse gas emissions each year through the production of methane gas which, as members may know, has 25 times the global warming potential of carbon dioxide.

I encourage all members in this place to think about what goes into their bins—fruit and vegetable scraps, tea leaves and coffee grounds, eggshells, bread, human and animal hair, vacuum dust. All of these can go into the compost, along with grass clippings, weeds and dead flowers. There is no need for any of them to be disposed of as rubbish.

Composting can take many forms. Waste collected in kitchen caddies may be collected. The government is exploring options to deliver a food organics and garden organics service—a FOGO service—to households by 2023. Some people direct-compost by burying vegetable matter in the ground, whereas others use a compost bin or tumbler. You can also build a compost heap or create a worm farm in your garden. This last one is a great way to get the kids involved.

Composting also assists people to grow some of their own fruit and vegetables, something over 4.7 million households in Australia are doing. If you do not have a garden, there are many community gardens, including school and bush tucker gardens, that could benefit from your waste or you could contact some of our local waste services social enterprises that offer kerbside collection and composting services in Canberra.

I am really excited that urban agriculture falls under my portfolio and I look forward to progressing our commitments in the parliamentary and governing agreement to establish initiatives such as the Canberra region food collaborative, and to look at the Residential Tenancies Act to create a presumption that landlords can permit renters to compost and grow food.

I will finish by sharing some of the top benefits of composting: it reduces household waste to landfill; it helps reduce greenhouse gas emissions; it creates nutrient-rich material for garden soil; it deters plant diseases and garden pests; it helps the soil to retain moisture so that less watering is needed; and it also increases biodiversity.

Composting is fun, and it is very satisfying to see and use the fruits of your labour. Composting is one small thing we can do to help the environment. I encourage all members to explore the options that will work for them and give it a go. It takes about three to four months for compost to be ready to use. Composting in the Canberra region over winter may take a little bit longer, but a healthy, active heat will stay warm even in the coldest winter, so do not be deterred. Stop wasting your waste and get composting.

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