Food and Green Waste

You can reduce waste going to landfill by ordering a food and green waste recycling bin for your household. You can use this bin for both food and garden waste.

Darebin residents can now recycle food waste alongside their garden waste.

These items can now be added to your food and green waste bin:

  • Fruit and vegetable scraps
  • Citrus, onion and garlic
  • Meat, small bones and seafood
  • Coffee grounds and loose tea leaves
  • Egg shells
  • Dairy products (cheese)
  • Bread, pasta and cereal
  • Used paper towel and newspaper, used to wrap loose food 

Do not place these items in your food and green waste bin:

  • Plastic bags (including compostable or biodegradable). More information on why compostable bags are not allowed can be found in our Frequently Asked Questions at the bottom of this page.
  • Plastic packaging, including compostable or biodegradable packaging
  • Food packaging (including fruit stickers and rubber bands)
  • Compostable coffee pods
  • Pet poo or kitty litter
  • Cooking oil or other liquids
  • Nappies and baby wipes (including those labelled as compostable)
  • Fabric and clothing
  • Stumps, soil, ash and dust
  • Building materials 
  • Garden supplies - pots, wire, hoses
  • Recyclable material or household waste

See our A to Z waste and recycling guide for a detailed list of where items can go. 

Find out what happens to your food and green waste by visiting the Back to Earth Initiative website.

Free downloadable colouring in sheet available
Teach children about what can go in your household food and green waste bin with the Back to Earth Initiative kitchen colouring in sheet

Food waste fact sheets
Download the Food and Green Waste brochure here for more information. Simple fact sheets on food and green waste are also available in:

Steps to recycling your food waste

  1. Use a kitchen container when you are preparing food or cleaning out the fridge. Any old container will do, we encourage residents to upcycle old yoghurt tubs or food storage containers.
  2. Put your food waste straight into the kitchen container. If you would like to line your container, use a sheet of paper towel or newspaper. Do not use plastic bags (even if they are compostable) to line your container.
  3. Empty the contents of your kitchen container straight into your food and green waste bin. Layering food waste between your garden clippings works best.

Avoiding and reducing how much food you throw away should be your first option. Visit the Food Know How website to find out how to best avoid food waste. You can also download our handy food storage guide to extend the life of your food. 

Frequently Asked Questions

The food and green waste collected through this service is turned into nutrient-rich mulch and compost, to be used on farms and in parks and gardens across Victoria.

It is important to keep the wrong items out of the green waste bin. Incorrect items, like plastic bags and nappies, don’t break down even if they are labelled compostable.

When these items go into your food and green waste bin they affect the composting process. By making sure only the right items are going in the bin you are helping to produce high quality mulch and compost to be used on farms and in parks and gardens in Victoria.

You can find out what happens to your green waste by visiting the Back to Earth initiative.

Great! We encourage you to continue home composting or worm farming.

The food waste recycling service will complement home composting systems, as it can accept food like bones, meat, citrus peel, bread and dairy. These items aren’t generally recommended for your home compost or worm farm.

If you want to set up your own compost system, see our home composting page under "Composting".

Your collection service will stay the same. The food and green waste bin will be collected every fortnight, alternating with the recycling bin. See the collection page for more information on collection days.

We encourage residents who use the food waste recycling service to place their food and green waste bin out each fortnight, even if it not completely full.
A kitchen container makes it easy to collect food waste as you prepare meals or if you are cleaning out your fridge or pantry. 

Choose a container that suits the style and size for your needs.  We encourage all residents to upcycle a container they already have. Old yogurt tubs work well as they have close-fitting lids. A range of purpose made containers for food waste are also available from retailers or hardware stores.
 You can reduce any smells or pests by:
  • wrapping food waste in a layer of paper towel or newspaper
  • storing your kitchen container in the fridge and emptying it into your food and green waste bin every few days
  • washing your kitchen container at least once a week using detergent or eucalyptus oil. If it is dishwasher-safe, use the dishwasher
  • sprinkling a little bicarb soda in your kitchen container and bin
  • layering food waste between lawn clippings, garden prunings or other garden waste in the bin
  • keep your container and bin lid closed and do not overfill them
  • keep your food and green bin in the shade, and rinse it out as needed
  • keep seafood and meat scraps in the freezer until collection day.
Each home with a Council waste service is entitled to a food and green waste bin. This is an optional service to residents and is paid through the rates notice by the rate payer. See the "Order a food and green waste bin" page for more information.

No, you are unable to use compostable bags in Darebin's food and green waste bin. The organics processing facility that composts your food and green waste does not accept any type of bags, even those labelled compostable or biodegradable.

Bags labelled as compostable will not fully break down in the in-vessel composting system the facility uses. The composting process between different facilities in Victoria varies, which is why other Council areas are able to accept certain compostable bags. 

If food or green waste is bagged, it also means contamination cannot be detected and the whole bag will be removed at the facility. It's important to keep incorrect items out of the food and green waste bin so the end compost product is of high quality. More information on what happens to the end compost product can be found here www.backtoearth.vic.gov.au

We recommend wrapping your food waste in paper towel or a few layers of newspaper if needed.

If you wrap your food waste, please use a sheet of paper towel or newspaper. Make sure to remove all packaging from food (even the stickers you find on fruit) and place packaging in the appropriate bin. Check out our A to Z waste and recycling guide for more information.
Yes, if your apartment block uses Council waste services. We are currently unable to offer the service if a private contractor collects your waste and recycling. Residents in multi-unit developments with private waste management can still recycle their food waste by either purchasing a Bokashi bin or worm farm (see our home composting page),or finding a location nearby to take your food waste through the ShareWaste network website.

Food and Green waste recycling bins are collected fortnightly, alternating with your recycling collection.

Download the 2020 recycling calendar for bin collection days.

You can also find your collection date by searching for your property address on the interactive map on DarebinGuide.

Bins are not collected Good Friday, Christmas Day, New Year's Day or Anzac Day and will be collected the following day.

What can I put in my food and green waste recycling bin?

The following items are accepted in food and green waste recycling bin:

  • Grass clippings
  • Weeds
  • Small sticks, twigs and prunings (up to 30cm length)
  • Flowers and leaves
  • Cut flowers
  • Fruit and vegetable scraps
  • Citrus, onion and garlic
  • Meat, small bones and seafood
  • Coffee grounds and loose tea leaves
  • Egg shells
  • Cheese
  • Bread, pasta and cereal
  • Paper towel and newspaper, used to wrap loose food

These items do not go in the food and green waste bin:

  • Plastic bags (including compostable or biodegradable)
  • Garden or food waste in plastic bags
  • Plastic packaging,
  • Compostable packaging and coffee pods
  • Pet droppings and kitty litter
  • Nappies (including compostable)
  • Building material (e.g. concrete or bricks)
  • Soil, stumps and tree roots
  • Wire, cloth, material, plastic or nylon ties.
  • Recyclable material 
  • Household rubbish
  • Disposing of additional green waste 

Your bin will not be collected if it:

  • contains incorrect items
  • weighs more than 30kg
  • is overfilled, has anything on top of it or leaning against it
  • is put out too late
  • is too close to obstacles such as trees, poles, other bins or parked cars.

Disposing of additional green waste recycling
Additional green waste recycling can be disposed of at the Darebin Resource Recovery Centre (Tip). Charges apply. Or you can compost your green waste for free at home using a compost bin. See Gardening for information on home composting.

Food and green waste recycling bins are an optional service for residents.

Charges for this optional residential service are billed to the ratepayer through the rates notices. Only the ratepayer for the residential property can request an optional food and green waste recycling service. Discounts are available to pension card holders. 

If you are a tenant in a rental property and would like this service you will need to contact the property owner or agent and request that they order the food and green waste service on your behalf.

This service is not currently offered to businesses. If you have a business in Darebin and would like to recycle food waste, please contact Council to discuss your options.

Food and green waste recycling bin charges 
Bin Size Annual Charge
 120L  $55.50
 120L (pensioner rate)  $32.00
 240L  $105.00
 240L (pensioner rate)  $68.00

How to order a Green Waste Recycling Bin

1. Complete the Food and Green Waste Recycling Bin Application Form
2. Return the completed form to a Customer Service Centre

Find more information on what can and cannot go in your food and green waste bin on Darebin's A to Z waste and recycling guide.

Further Information
Customer Service
Phone 8470 8888
Email mailbox@darebin.vic.gov.au

Save money, time and the environment by reducing and reusing to cut food waste.

The average household throws away around $2,200 each year in food, or approximately one in every five shopping bags of groceries. Most of this is food that otherwise could have been avoided and eaten.

Food waste is costly to your household and to the environment. When food breaks down in landfill it produces methane, a greenhouse gas 28 times more powerful at warming the Earth than carbon dioxide, making it a serious environmental concern. When we throw away food we’re not only contributing to landfill, we’re throwing away the energy, water and natural resources used to produce, transport and package the food.

You can significantly reduce how much avoidable food waste you produce by following some very easy and practical steps at home and at the grocery store. For any unavoidable food waste you might have (like fruit pips or avocado skins), you can use a compost bin, worm farm or your food and green waste recycling bin. The resulting compost will bring vital nutrients back to the soil.

How can I avoid food waste?

Plan, plan, plan
  • Meal planning for the week is easy and fun, try using the Food Know How meal planner to plan out your meals. This will help you buy the right amount of ingredients for the week so you can avoid unnecessary left over ingredients.
  • Write, and stick to, your shopping list. This makes shopping less stressful and expensive too!
  • Check your fridge and pantry before you leave for the store – there might be ingredients you already have that you can use. 
  • Make sure to have a snack before you shop to avoid impulse food purchases.

Shopping smarter

  • Buying bulk dry goods (lentils, rice, pasta) that last a long time is useful, but remember that fresh ingredients won’t last as long. 
  • Reconsider the sales. Bulk deals or “specials” are only a bargain if you use the ingredients.
  • Buy locally grown food that is in season, this helps to support local farmers and food systems.

Storage is key

  • Use clear containers or jars to store food, so you know what you have and it’s easy to see.
  • Keep food closer to their use-by closest to the front of your fridge or pantry, and within your line of sight.
  • Store food properly – check out our Food Storage Chart for more information on where and how to store food. It's available in two different designs so you can choose the one you would like to put on your fridge. Download the food storage chart green design here or the food storage chart collage design here
  • Visit the Wholegrains Council website for advice on the best methods and how long to store your grains.
  • Store opened dry goods reused jars and containers, cardboard and plastic packaging is susceptible to weevils.
  • Consume foods before their "use-by" date has passed. A "best before" date is just an indication of when a food is at its best and can still be consumed after this date. 
  • Make sure to include the date and contents on leftovers in the fridge and freezer. 
  • If you are freezing leftovers cool them in the fridge before you put them in the freezer.
  • Freezer stored food should be separated into portions so you can defrost what you need.

Cooking

  • Cook only what is needed for your household - you can use the portion calculator here
  • Use the whole vegetable or fruit when you can, including the skins! Think stalks and leaves of cauliflower, broccoli and celery, and using the root to tip of herbs. Check out these recipes ideas for commonly wasted items that can be used in cooking.
  • If you have fruit and vegetables that are close to their use-by, try turning them into soups or adding them to smoothies.
  • Use vegetable scraps to make stock. Save those vegetable peelings, pop them in a pot with enough water to cover them, bring to a rolling boil and then simmer for one hour. Once the scraps are strained off you'll have homemade vegetable stock!
     

Hungry for more food waste resources?

Compost bins, worm farms, and Bokashi buckets are great ways to recycle your food waste.

Join the Compost Revolution

Council has partnered with Compost Revolution, an award-winning program, aimed to reduce the amount of food waste going to landfill and to provide residents with nutrient-rich compost to use on their gardens or indoor plants.

Darebin residents who hold a concession card are eligible to receive a discount off the recommended retail prices of one of the following composting systems:

  • Compost bin - this bin can handle greater volumes but needs more garden space to be set up. They also require more manual labor.
  • Bokashi bin (kitchen compost) - this is a good solution if you have limited space as it can be kept on your kitchen bench
  • Worm farm - can handle small volumes of food waste (mostly fruit and vegetable scraps) and the resulting worm juice is a great fertiliser for plants!

 To access your discount, all you have to do is:

  1. Visit the Compost Revolution website
  2. Complete the online tutorial and quiz
  3. Order your product (delivery fees apply)

Residents who do not hold a concession card can also purchase home compost products from Compost Revolution.

Conditions of Eligibility
One home composting product discount is available per household. Residents that have already received a discount are ineligible. The discount is only available to residents who hold a concession card (ratepayers and renters) of Darebin City Council. Delivery fees apply. 

There are a limited number of discounts available each year, when this number is reached the program will be paused until the following year. These products and discounts may also be subject to change.

Compost Bins

Compost bins are a good choice for people with more space as they can handle greater volumes of organic waste. However, they do require maintenance. Material in compost bins should be turned regularly to maintain air flow. This will help the micro-organisms to break down material faster.

Compost requires a balance of inputs to ensure the organic matter breaks down. It needs a balance of:

  • Carbon  - dry leaves, straw, paper, sawdust, shredded branches, dry grass
  • Nitrogen - Food scraps, fresh grass, manures, blood and bone, seaweed, comfrey, lucerne
  • Oxygen - introduced by turning the heap once a week while the material is new
  • Water - to keep the heap moist and covered
  • Correct size of particles and heap (small particles, large heap)

Discounted compost bins are available for concession card holders from the Compost Revolution website. Visit Compost Revolution to find out more and to purchase your discounted compost bin. Compost bins are also available in a range of shapes and sizes from hardware stores.

Further information on composting:

Bokashi Bins

Bokashi bins are ideal for small apartments or units, as they can be kept inside. Bokashi bins can handle small volumes of kitchen waste, including food waste that generally can't go into a compost bin like meat and dairy. The system uses a process of fermentation, aided by the bokashi mix or enzyme, which is sprinkled over layers of kitchen scraps.

The end products are bokashi juice and solid bokashi waste. Bokashi juice can be diluted and added to your garden or indoor pot plants. The solid bokashi waste can be buried in your garden or added to a conventional compost heap where it will break down completely. If you don't have access to a garden, that's okay! Many community gardens are happy to accept this solid waste in their compost heaps. Check with your closest community garden or visit Share Waste to find a compost heap near you.

Discounted Bokashi bins are available for concession card holders from the Compost Revolution website. Visit Compost Revolution to find out more and to purchase your discounted Bokashi bin. Bokashi bins are also available in a range of shapes and sizes from hardware stores.

Worm Farms

Worm farms are a great option for people with smaller yards or balconies. With your worm farm you can produce rich soil (castings) and liquid fertiliser (worm juice) in a small area. Worm farming uses selected worms (typically Tiger Worms, Red Wrigglers and Indian Blues) to break down kitchen and garden scraps.

Tips:

  • Choose a cool shaded spot for your worm farm. 
  • Add composting worms, such as Tigers, Reds and Blues to your worm farm as they live, work and breed well in the rich, moist, organic environment of your worm farm.
  • Keep your worm farm moist, warm and protected from the hot summer sun
  • If possible, shred kitchen and garden waste into smaller pieces
  • Cover the worms with a small black plastic sheet in cool weather. In hot weather a damped hessian, newspaper is more desirable.
  • Always replace the lid
  • Castings can be placed in the garden around plants, in pot plants, around fruit trees, native trees and vegetables. 

Coffee grounds are a source of nitrogen and are a great addition to your compost as well. Add together with your kitchen scraps and make sure you layer with about one third carbon based materials such as dried leaves or untreated wood shavings. Coffee grounds also make good worm food. Some people like to add coffee grounds directly to their garden as fertiliser. They can also be sprinkled around seedlings to deter slugs and snails.

Worm farms are available from Compost Revolution. Worm farms are also available in a range of shapes and sizes from hardware stores. A limited number of worm farms and compost aerators* are available from our Customer Service Centre in Preston for $65 inc. GST. Please note, worms must be purchased separately and are available from hardware stores and online.

Nominate your favourite local garden or environmental project to win $5,000 from the Back to Earth Initiative.

Victorian garden competition postponed  

To allow kindergartens, schools and community groups to focus on other priorities the Back to Earth Initiative have postponed the Victorian Garden Competition until further notice.  

A number of nominations from kindergartens, schools and community groups were received. These nominations will remain valid when the competition is reopened. You do not need to do anything further if you have already submitted a project, Back to Earth will contact you directly.  

If you haven't yet nominated, hold onto your idea and stay tuned for an update later in the year. We’re looking forward to seeing more interesting and innovative ways you’re putting your food and green waste to good use.  

The Back to Earth Initiative shows us that what we put in our green waste bins can be turned into useful compost that helps gardens and farms bloom. Check out the Back to Earth Initiative website to see farmers stories and learn more about the journey your food waste takes from home to farm: backtoearth.vic.gov.au/

Book your free branch or Christmas tree collection

Darebin residential properties are entitled to:

One free bundled branch collection per year (up to eight bundles of branches of no more than one metre long and 30cm in diameter).  Bundles must be easily handled by one person and tied with string or twine (natural material is preferred). Please do not use wire. 

One real Christmas tree collection per year per household. Christmas tree collections are available from 27 December to 28 February 2020.

Bookings are required for both these services. To book, call Customer Service on 8470 8888.

The Darebin Resource Recovery Centre (the Tip) offers a free drop-off of standard size natural Christmas trees from 27 December to 28 February 2020, a plastic tree will cost $18 (default charge).