This month we caught up with Shani Wood, Environmental Officer at City of Holdfast Bay about her role, the Leadership Excellence Awards and what she enjoys most about working in local government.
What is your role and what does it involve?
Environmental Officer within the City Assets and Services Department for the City of Holdfast Bay.
My role has a strong focus on waste education and projects. In my 10 years as Environmental Officer I’ve been fortunate enough to lead the development and implementation of a number of innovative community waste projects including: all stream kerbside bin inspections and tagging, a compostable bags in supermarkets trail and most recently our weekly green FOGO bin trial. Another fun and less stressful part of my role is community and school waste talks where I often dress up as Shani Banani (me in a cheap banana costume) in order to encourage residents to place food scraps in their FOGO bin. My role also involves the facilitation of other environmental themed community engagement programs including our Green Living and Resilient South workshops and Green Living subsidies.
City of Holdfast Bay are a finalist in the Excellence in Environmental Leadership and Sustainability Award category in this year’s Leadership Excellence Awards for the Driving Landfill Reduction Through Weekly FOGO Collection Trial – can you provide an overview of the project?
Over 1,000 households within the City of Holdfast Bay have been piloting weekly kerbside green FOGO bin collections and fortnightly landfill collections since September 2020. Switching landfill and FOGO bin collections frequencies makes it easier for householders to place food scraps in the FOGO bin. The associated increased landfill diversion reduces landfill greenhouse gas emissions, assists in job growth within the circular economy and assists both council and the State Government in reaching carbon neutral, circular economy and landfill diversion targets.
Households participating in the default weekly FOGO service have achieved a landfill diversion rate of 76%, this being 6% higher than the 70% municipal landfill diversion target set by the state government and 26% higher than the average South Australian council’s landfill diversion rate.
Utilising “FOGO champions” to create a social norm around the pilot is seen as one of the key drivers in the success of the pilot along with a strong working relationship between all parties involved (Elected members, waste contractor, focus groups and key State Government departments).
Now that all has been revealed and City of Holdfast Bay were announced as the winner of the Excellence in Environmental Leadership and Sustainability Award last Friday, what does this award mean to the Council, staff and the community?
The weekly FOGO pilot has been a long 3-and-a-half-year journey and means a lot to all who are involved.
The Holdfast Bay community have been leaders in sustainable waste management since the introduction of kitchen caddies in 2013. It is hoped that the weekly FOGO/fortnightly landfill model raises the bar for South Australia councils to increase landfill diversion, reduce greenhouse gases and create more jobs within the circular economy.
Why did you enter the Leadership Excellence Awards?
I see the Leadership Excellence Awards as not only an opportunity to acknowledge innovative projects across Local Government but a good opportunity to share knowledge and ideas for adoption across the sector.
What would be your advice for others thinking of nominating for a Leadership Excellence Award in the future?
Go for it!
Run your application past project team members for ideas and feedback (or in my case a spelling check!).
What is the most satisfying thing about working in Local Government?
Working with and for the community. Helping residents and businesses make small behaviour changes for the benefit of both the environment and society.
Working with likeminded and passionate colleagues also makes the job even more enjoyable.
Finally – what do you enjoy outside of work? How do you spend your leisure time?
My partner Ben and I have four girls under 11 between us - that keeps us busy!
I love playing mixed netball, walking our three dogs, watching Port Adelaide play and obsessing over my many pot plants.