Yarra Climate Action Now – YCAN

Help us achieve a sustainable and safe future for Yarra, Melbourne and the world!

A dog will poo; what to do?

It can be a minefield determining the most environmentally-friendly solution for your dog waste, but we’ve had a go for you!

When at home, the best solution is to set up a dedicated DIY compostor worm farm (Bokashi also have a neat system they call Ensopet), but don’t use this on your vegetable garden. Flushing down the toilet is a no-no according to Sustainability Victoria.  Your general waste (landfill) bin should be a last resort.

When out and about, there are no perfect solutions. To be sure, the best option is to wrap in a compostable material (e.g. paper loo roll wrapper) and bring home to your dedicated compost. If using dog bags and Council bins, the waste will go to landfill so it’s important that the bags are “landfill biodegradable” (e.g. the BioGonebags used by Council).

While rates of degradation can’t be assured, they will eventually break down into harmless organic matter. Contrast this with “degradable” plastic bags which just break up into smaller plastic pieces! “Compostable” bags made from renewable bioplastics (e.g. corn starch) might be better again, but require a commercial composting facility to break down properly.

You’ll be pleased to know Council is considering this option with dedicated dog poo bins in our leash-free parks.

Whatever you do, don’t leave it behind (even in vegetated areas) because dog poo will release methane as it breaks down, and contains harmful bacteria that will pollute our waterways after the next rain. We hope this helps!

Ask your super fund what it is doing to manage climate risk!

Following the lead of a Brisbane man who is suing the REST superannuation fund over its failure to demonstrate that it is taking action to manage climate risk, Market Forces are calling on all of us to demand action from our super funds.

Market Forces is a terrific group that is successfully persuading businesses, local government and individuals to divest from fossil fuels.

You can take action and ask what is your super fund going to manage climate risk here.

YCAN Convenor wins Local Hero  in the Yarra Sustainability Awards

Our Convenor Kerry Echberg is the 2018 “Local Hero”.  The Local Hero award recognizes the achievements of an individual who has contributed significantly to sustainability.

 As a member of Yarra Climate Action Now (YCAN), over the last nine years Kerry has volunteered her time, energy and passion to bring about action on climate change. Whether writing submissions to Council; speaking at government hearings, such as the East-West Link panel; or chanting slogans and waving banners at rallies, Kerry’s efforts go far beyond YCAN. Her selfless dedication to establishing a safe climate for all deserves recognition.

Congratulations to the other winners and thanks to City of Yarra for showcasing so many positive contributions to sustainability.

Kerry couldn’t be at the awards night, but Gwyneth, Sarah, Adeline, Kevin and Carole were there to celebrate on her behalf.

Proudly Plastic Free Campaign Funded

We are very pleased to hear that the Proudly Plastic Free Campaign (encouraging take-away food outlets in Yarra to stop offering single-use plastics to customers) that YCAN initiated  has been funded in the budget for this financial year. In fact all unfunded actions in the Yarra Waste Minimisation Strategy 2018–2022 have been funded for the first year. YCAN has been pressuring Council to do this.

We look forward to the Proudly Plastic Free Campaign becoming a reality!

City of Yarra’s Food Waste Trial

Council’s food waste trial is powering along. Council officers are delighted with the enthusiasm for the scheme from participants, and with the low level of contamination in the single dwelling trial (virtually zero!).

A decision has already been made that a Food Organics Garden Organics (FOGO) system is best for Yarra with the material collected transported to a processing facility (eg the Veolia organic waste facility, located in Bulla).

Multiunit developments (apartments etc) did not do so well (almost 20% contamination) and the use of some sort of small on-site technology for food scraps will be trialled next.

The next phase of the single-dwelling trial will involve an additional 500 households in a FOGO trial. Officers will present their recommendations next year.

It’s been a long time coming, but it looks like Yarra will finally have a food waste collection as early as next year.

Andrews Government Extends Coal Licences

YCAN members where dismayed to learn earlier this month that the Andrews government has decided to extend the licences for Victoria’s two remaining coal-fired power generators. This will mean these polluting brown-coal generators will keep emitting greenhouse gases and endangering the health of workers and residents of nearby towns, not for years, but for decades – until 2051 for Yallourn and 2065 for Loy Yang. No limits to emissions were stipulated. So much for Premier Andrews target of net zero emissions by 2050!

Resources Minister Tim Pallas said this move would give “certainty” to the owners of the power stations, but did not mention the effect the decision would have on investment in renewable energy.

None of the environment groups has set up a petition with regard to this important issue. If you don’t agree with this decision, it is important to let the Victorian government know by writing to Premier Andrews daniel.andrews@parliament.vic.gov.auand Minister Pallas tim.pallas@parliament.vic.gov.au

Suggested points to make are:

  • Victoria need to urgently decrease its emissions.
  • This will not happen if dirty brown-coal generators continue to operate without annual limits being set.
  • If, as they claim, the extension is only to make sure the companies will have time to ensure rehabilitation of the mines can be properly carried out, then a licence to rehabilitate only is all that would have been required.
  • Minister Pallas says the extension will provide “greater certainty around investment” for the coal companies. What he doesn’t say is it has added to uncertainty about investment to crucial renewable energy infrastructure in Victoria.

Find more information hereand here.

Proudly Plastic Free Campaign Part of Yarra’s New Waste Strategy

We are very pleased to see that the Proudly Plastic Free campaign that YCAN proposed (supported by a 300-signature petition) is part of the new Yarra Waste Minimisation strategy 2018–2022. It is not yet funded, however, and we will be lobbying council to ensure that the upcoming budget provides the $10,000 that is required to make it a reality.

You can read Yarra’s draft budget for 2018–19 online (it’s under Resources)and make comments. Obviously, we’d love you to support the funding of the Proudly Plastic Free campaign. Submissions close on 25 May.

YCAN is broadly supportive of the waste strategy, which focusses on waste minimisation. Food waste trials continue throughout the term of the strategy. Hopefully by the end of the lengthy trial period, officers will have selected a strategy that will enable all residents to dispose of their food waste. YCAN will be keeping a close eye on developments.

The Waste Strategy is open for comment until 13 June. You can read it online (it’s under Document Library) and make comments via the Your Say Yarra survey.




Congratulations to Yarra Council for Support of New Wind Farm


A new wind farm is now under construction at Crowlands, north of Ararat thanks to a consortium of local councils, universities and other organisations who are part of the Melbourne Renewable Energy Project (MREP). Yarra Council is part of the consortium. It is the first time that a group of organisation have pooled their electricity purchasing power to enable the construction of a new renewable energy facility.

According to Yarra Councillor Misha Coleman, “We don’t have to wait for state and federal governments to deliver clean energy sources – by 2019 Yarra will be buying 100% of its electricity from a wind farm.”

It is great to see local government leading the way in creating new renewable energy infrastructure.

Sustainable Toothbrushes

In Australia alone 30 million toothbrushes are thrown out every year. In the US the figure is a billion.

When YCAN members were discussing the best alternative to plastic toothbrushes, no one was happy with the types they had tried. So we’re asking for your experiences.

Bamboo handles? Recycled plastic? If you’ve found a good sustainable toothbrush that had bristles that didn’t make your gums bleed, let us know!