While there's some conjecture over whether FOGO's rules have indeed "changed", or that the EPA is now "clarifying" what has always been its position, the resulting situation is causing headaches for the community and council alike.
Items such as cardboard takeaway containers, certain coffee cups, tea bags and pet poo were among the compostable items that until now were included in what could be disposed of in Bega Valley Shire Council's green FOGO bins.
That message has now changed, with the Environment Protection Authority saying not even "home-compostable" products - like paper towel, bamboo and cardboard packaging, and compostable plastics - can be included in FOGO.
However, BVSC acting waste strategy coordinator Rechelle Fisher said all the FOGO implementation and education programs the shire had undertaken across the past four years had been signed off on by the EPA.
There have even been industry accolades along the way.
Ms Fisher and council waste services manager Alan Gundrill sat down with the Bega District News on Friday to discuss the challenges now facing the community and the way forward under the EPA's "clarification".
"When we first introduced FOGO, compostable packaging was not really on the radar yet," Ms Fisher said.
"I guess they [the EPA] didn't anticipate the massive shift to compostable packaging that has happened since and want to nip it in the bud before FOGO is across the board."
Mr Gundrill explained that a government directive was pushing for organics processing in every NSW council area by 2030.
He said in a lot of ways, Bega had been leading the charge, and many other councils had been in contact to learn from what BVSC had done.
"A lot of that is redundant now, which is disappointing," he added.
Also disappointing for the council was the impact this would have on local businesses which have adapted to using compostable packaging and FOGO waste services.
Ms Fisher said council and businesses had been "on the journey" together and she understood their frustration.
"Getting people through the behavioural change - to go back to separating food from packaging - that's what's going to hurt the most.
"We've all adapted well and this decision has really turned that around."
However, she and Mr Gundrill also wanted the community to consider the positives to the EPA's directive.
As well as creating a consistent organic compost framework across the whole state, it also put those outlets who have gone through the Bega Valley Shire Council's FOGO for Business program ahead of the game when it comes to November 1's statewide ban on single-use plastics.
"This is what the EPA has advocated right across the state, so no matter where you go, if tourists visit here, everyone will know the rules, it will be consistent," Mr Gundrill said.
"Knowing that makes the behavioural change needed a lot easier to swallow.
They also indicated the change would not cause a great issue on local landfill if people continued to utilise the green bins for permitted waste.
By weight, for residential bins only around three per cent was compostable packaging and the other now-prohibited items like pet poo and vacuum cleaner lint, Mr Gundrill said.
The majority of what people put in their residential green bins was garden waste, he said.
"Only about 25 per cent is kitchen scraps, and a much smaller amount is packaging - so diverting it back to landfill is not really much of an impact
"It's the lack of convenience that's the frustration."
Ms Fisher said despite the challenges presented in changing user behaviour, FOGO was still "a really effective way to reduce landfill".
Through commercial and residential efforts, she said 6500 tonnes of organic waste was being diverted away from our landfill each year.
"It's still really worthwhile and is keeping food out of landfill," she said.
"It's still a really good service worth doing.
"It's a bit less convenient, especially for our businesses, but we will certainly do what we can to support them."
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