Shire waste de­ci­sions loom

Augusta Margaret River Times - - Front Page - War­ren Hately

The Shire of Au­gusta-Mar­garet River could in­tro­duce a three-bin sys­tem as well as manda­tory re­cy­cling across the whole shire if the coun­cil adopts rec­om­men­da­tions from its long-awaited waste fea­si­bil­ity study.

A brief­ing on the re­port’s find­ings this week out­lined moves to in­crease the per­cent­age of waste sent to land­fill de­spite the life­span of the Shire’s David Road tip com­ing to an end in less than five years.

Con­sul­tants GFG were asked to of­fer choices on how to move for­ward with­out big cost jumps for res­i­dents, though costs would in­evitably climb de­spite a mul­ti­mil­lion­dol­lar fund for waste man­age­ment re­couped from ratepay­ers in re­cent years.

Ac­cept­ing the ex­ist­ing waste model was un­sus­tain­able, that the com­mer­cial sec­tor needed to lift its game, in­ter­na­tional re­cy­cling regimes were in tur­bu­lence, and there was no im­me­di­ate op­tion for a vi­able new land­fill site in the re­gion, the con­sul­tants found adding a 140litre “FOGO bin” for or­ganic food and gar­den waste was the pre­ferred op­tion.

Truck­ing waste be­yond 45km was also un­sus­tain­able, though the re­port was yet to con­sider green­house emis­sions in its study. But pil­ing col­lected waste onto road trains and haul­ing it to Dar­danup was the best short-term op­tion.

The plan leaves the Shire with choices for the fu­ture, in­clud­ing a rec­om­men­da­tion to call for in­ter­est in a lo­cal or­ganic waste pro­cess­ing cen­tre run by the pri­vate sec­tor. The time­frame would also al­low the Shire to con­sider ad­vances in tech­nol­ogy that might im­prove land­fill out­comes.

The fea­si­bil­ity study lands as coun­cil­lors con­sider a cost spike from re­cy­cling con­trac­tor Suez be­cause of in­creased re­stric­tions on re­cy­clable waste sent to China.

If en­dorsed, the study rec­om­men­da­tions would see a ma­jor ed­u­ca­tion cam­paign along the lines of Bri­tain’s WRAP UK ini­tia­tive.

“These im­prove­ments in waste man­age­ment can re­ally only suc­ceed if we get buy-in from com-

mu­ni­ties,” GFG manag­ing di­rec­tor Glen Flood told coun­cil­lors.

The study also con­sid­ered the ef­fect of an es­ti­mated 13 per cent pop­u­la­tion boost from tourists, with other stud­ies show­ing many vis­i­tors “threw out” en­vi­ron­men­tal val­ues while on hol­i­day.

Ed­u­cat­ing ratepay­ers and vis­i­tors was cru­cial, GFG ed­u­ca­tion man­ager Gae Synott said, and tourism bod­ies and other groups would be re­cruited.

Sig­nif­i­cantly, the con­sul­tants also rec­om­mended shut­ting the Rosa Brook and Alexan­dra Bridge trans­fer sta­tions — kept open af­ter com­mu­nity out­cry ear­lier this decade — say­ing the Shire spent about $130,000 each year to serve only 115 house­holds.

De­spite lo­gis­ti­cal chal­lenges, kerb­side col­lec­tion was rec­om­mended for those ar­eas, and re­cy­cling would be ex­tended to Au­gusta, found to have poor re­cy­cling rates be­cause of non-manda­tory re­cy­cling.

The study also de­tailed the big cost from the com­mer­cial and in­dus­trial sec­tor, which con­trib­utes more than half the 19,000 tonnes of rub­bish sent to David Road each year.

Food and gar­den waste was an es­ti­mated 45 per cent of house­hold rub­bish, while 22 per cent was waste such as used nap­pies.

Di­vert­ing waste from land­fill would de­liver sav­ings and bet­ter en­vi­ron­men­tal out­comes, the con­sul­tants said.

How­ever, the Com­mu­nity Strate­gic Plan 2036 tar­get to di­vert 70 per cent of waste looked am­bi­tious.

The three-bin op­tion would di­vert 33.2 per cent of waste over 20 years.

The Shire’s an­nual waste levy was “pru­dent”, but it should be phased out as the plan fell into place, GFG econ­o­mist Michael Kent said.

“You guys are def­i­nitely not go­ing to keep run­ning that levy for 20 years be­cause you’re go­ing to have a huge pile of money and no doubt a lot of un­happy ratepay­ers,” he said.

The fund would amass about $30 mil­lion by 2023-24, when David Road shuts, and $100 mil­lion by 2038 at cur­rent rates.

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