Parents at Stanwell Park School aspired to create the most environmentally friendly school fair they could but then faced a big hurdle with the new FOGO composting rules.
What began as a simple endeavour to ban single-use plastics, became harder when the P&C was stumped on how they could dispose of their compostable packaging with the new FOGO rules.
"[Parents] concerns were around the environmental impact from just this one fair alone," event organiser Sabae Lwin said.
"I tried to find a place like an industrial composting facility in the area. There was just no place accepting any sort of packaging, especially for a big event."
Just weeks before the event they were looking to do home composting at the school or distribute the waste among families that have their own composting.
The Wollongong City Council then stepped in offering to compost their packaging at Greenhouse Park as part of a once-off science experiment.
"This will involve classifying the material and testing how long the compostable packaging takes to compost," a Wollongong City Council spokesperson said.
In 2022 the NSW Environment Protection Authority changed the rules as to what people could dispose of in the Food Organics and Garden Organics (FOGO) waste bins and they were introduced by local councils in September 2023.
"Compostable and biodegradable packaging such as takeaway cups, plates or containers are no longer accepted in the green-lidded FOGO bins," a Wollongong City Council spokesperson said.
A spokesperson for NSW EPA said plastic or fibre-based products labelled as 'compostable' should be kept out of FOGO bins with the exception of the kitchen caddy liners that comply with Australian standards.
"Compostable packaging provides negligible or no nutrient value to compost and may contain a range of chemicals which can cause adverse environmental impacts," an NSW EPA spokesperson said.
While the council's science experiment helped the P&C with their event it's only a once-off solution.
Ms Lwin believes it leaves the packaging manufacturers and companies who bought the compostable packaging in good faith stranded.
"Stores that have gone green by buying these things for their cafes and restaurants, it's all impacted all across," she said.
The P&C will fundraise for a new sound system for the school alongside playground equipment and education activities with First Nation communities.
The Stanwell Park School Spring Fair will be held on Sunday, September 17 and includes soccer skills games, a doggy photo booth, and massages.
Visitors can bring their own water bottles to fill, and borrow from the 'mug bank' when purchasing a coffee.
"We live in this really beautiful area, environment and we all want to look after it. There's a lot of awareness of plastics in the environment, microplastics even," she said.
Schools across the Illawarra are holding spring fairs and fundraising events including:
If you have a school fundraising event, please email the education reporter: email@example.com
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