It’s time to outline the way forward and to innovative with bold plans to change the way our region manages waste.
These initiatives will also form a key part of the way forward towards zero carbon 2040 targets for Council incorporating the aspiration of zero waste to landfill.
This will be achieved through innovations which minimise waste and increase resource recovery.
Positive change in waste management across the region looks like assisting to manage the impacts of projected large population growth over next decade. It’s through enhancing the environmental outcomes of Council’s current waste management services and increasing the community’s awareness of environmental initiatives that a significant reduction in waste to landfill must be achieved.
Across the region waste disposal costs will continue to increase unless less waste is produced by households. However, if waste reduction occurs and recycling rates increase then ratepayers could comparatively see a major reduction in disposal costs.
We can be a region that aspires to lead the pursuit of innovation. Along with a Council that is about getting back to the basics of assisting the entire community of our region to live and work in an environmentally sustainable manner.
This is the outline of a strategy and ideas which shouldn’t ever be set in stone. Over the course of recent years for example new opportunities have already become technically possible and Council could seek to identify these for review and possible adoption.
For example, improved waste management technology and methods now enable organic food material and garden green waste to be treated in combination to deliver useful compost material. This one innovation alone if implemented could divert 45% of the regions waste from landfill seeing a reduction of around 160,000t per year by 2026.
This is why a third bin maybe a medium-term option for the region. A green bin would mean that residents would be able to put food scraps, leaves, grass clippings, twigs and branches and weeds in your organics bin.
The purpose of introducing a kerbside food waste green bin service would be to reduce food waste to landfill and the greenhouse gas emissions resulting from this material decomposing in landfill.
Food waste that could be added to a green topped organics bin could include fruit and vegetable scraps, citrus, onion and garlic meat, bones and seafood scraps coffee grounds and loose tea leaves egg shells dairy products, bread, pasta and cereal leftovers and a few sheets of paper towel or newspaper to line the bin.
Being dynamic and responsive is essential when for example we consider that there is a global market for recycling and new and emerging enterprises across our own region creating a local industry a job.
It’s been eight years since Council reviewed its Waste Storage and Collection Policy and yet Council adds approximately another 250 users to the kerbside collection service a month.
The region’s land fill capacity at the current facilities has a limited life.
More and more residents across the region and now living in medium to high density housing and yet Council hasn’t responded to that changing nature with better waste management and waste minimisation strategies.
With our region’s population expanding by 40% over the next two decades the time is now to decide on the way forward.
Some of the immediate properties are obvious increasing resource recovery, street cleanliness and reducing illegal dumping along with the repair, repurposing and refurbishment of goods over recycling or disposal.
This is about the concept of circular economy applied through a waste management approach which involves a regenerative system in which resource use, waste, emissions, and energy leakage are minimised by slowing, closing, and narrowing energy and material loops. In a circular economy, products are designed with the end in mind and waste is designed out of the process.
Products are designed and manufactured for repair, repurposing or reuse before they are recycled. This is in stark contrast to a linear economy where ‘built-in obsolesce’ has become prevalent in many consumer items.
As part of Council’s commitment to keeping resources in use, Council could seek to facilitate the establishment of facilities within the region to repair and recover resources.
The procurement policy lever is also available in many instances are here this would include a weighted preference for the purchase of goods made with recycled content which will help to ensure strong market destinations for the materials we collect and recycle.
Council can also play a role by participating in and supporting innovative trials for recycled or repurposed materials and by supporting or partnering with emerging businesses to develop projects that keep resources circulating.
This is the way forward for our region on waste.