Detailed market research is to be conducted to establish the commercial viability of turning thousands of tonnes of Perth's garden waste into a range of compost products.
Three Perth councils and the Western Australian Government are to share the cost of the investigation. They will appoint private consultants to do the research.
Deputy Premier and Minister for State Development Ian Taylor said today that the aim was not only to make better use of the State's resources but to reduce by half the amount of domestic waste currently being buried in landfills.
"Garden waste is a major contributor. Each year, Perth's private gardens and back yards produce some 129,000 tonnes of 'green' waste - grass cuttings, and loppings cut from trees and shrubs," Mr Taylor said.
"It has been estimated that as much as 119,500 tonnes of that material could be recycled and turned into compost and mulch.
"But if we are going to launch such a huge project we have to be certain that there is a market for such products and that they can be produced at a reasonable price."
The Department for State Development will co-ordinate the project, and Mr Taylor said the investigation was being supported by the city councils of Perth, Stirling and Wanneroo.
"The original concept was outlined in the State Recycling Blueprint when it was released jointly by State and local governments in July," he said.
"Many of the blueprint's proposals for domestic waste recycling are already being adopted, but recycling garden waste creates a whole set of new problems which have to be answered before it is included."
The consultants will be asked to investigate the current state of the market for soil conditioners and organic fertilisers; identify the major sources of supply; the types of materials used to make them; and the potential for new products.
"The size of the scheme we envisage is quite large, but an operation of this kind has been successfully accomplished in the United States, where the city of Seattle is co-operating with a local company, Cedar Grove Compost Company, to collect and recycle all Seattle's garden waste," Mr Taylor said.
"Cedar Grove and a big number of Seattle garden centres now sell a range of compost materials either bagged or in bulk and offer a technical service on how best to use it.
"For Perth the potential benefits are huge. Not only would such a composting operation lead to the long-term enrichment of local soils, the better quality soils which would result would also be far better at retaining water than today’s sandy soils.
"The other major plus for the environment would be a big reduction in the amount of methane gas being produced in land fills."
The consultant's report is expected to be available by the end of the year.