Shire waste decisions loom
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.