Why is Council introducing a new waste strategy?

    It is a NSW Government requirement that all local government authorities that manage waste have strategic planning in place to show how they will manage waste and how they intend to reduce waste going to landfill to achieve the targets in the Waste Avoidance and Resource Recovery legislation.

    Council currently diverts about 46 per cent of waste generated by domestic properties and the current target is 66 per cent, with this due to increase to 70 per cent this year.

    How will the new waste strategy impact me?

    There are six priority actions in the new strategy.

    Priority action 1: Food and Organics
    Council is proposing to change the current green lid garden waste bin to a service that collects both garden and food waste.  For some urban properties that do not have the current garden waste service, this would mean introducing a new third bin so that all residential properties in the urban area have a three bin system. This will help to divert the greater than 40 per cent of organics in the household waste bin currently and reduce greenhouse gas emissions and leachate at the landfill.

    The green lid organics bin would be serviced on a weekly cycle with the red lid garbage bin moving to a fortnightly cycle.

    Priority Action 2: Developing new infrastructure
    The strategy also talks about options to allow Council to process the organics and green waste that has been collected in the new service.

    Priority Action 3: Cleaning up the streets examines options to allow council to continue to allow residents to present bulky waste (Household Clean-up Campaign) periodically, but seeks to address the aesthetic, environmental and Workplace Health and Safety issues with the current service. Council will be seeking input from the community as to the best way to do this in the most equitable manner.

    Priority Action 4: Alternative ways to reduce waste to landfill looks at opportunities to salvage more material from the waste stream. This will involve ongoing investigations of the opportunities to remove salvageable material from the domestic and commercial waste streams.

    Priority Action 5: Regional collaboration looks at the benefits and opportunities associated with ongoing regional cooperation in the development of solutions for the processing and disposal of waste.

    Priority Action 6: Education and promotion looks at further strengthening education programs and waste-wise promotional opportunities for Council in this area.

    What will this new service cost residents?

    Over 40 per cent of residents already have a greenwaste garden bin. For these residents the cost of waste services is likely remain the same and may fall slightly as the collection should be more economical to provide. For those who do not currently have a green waste bin the cost will be around an additional $40 per year or less than $1 per week.

    The draft strategy also talks about alternative methods for resource recovery. What is that all about?

    It is becoming increasingly expensive and difficult to get approvals to develop landfill and much of the material that is being placed into landfill can be reused or reprocessed. This element of the strategy looks at how Council can stay abreast of the changes in technology, therefore allowing us to divert more material away from landfill.

    Council will be preparing business cases for any proposal with economic viability as a key criteria.

    Why is Council considering an organics collection?

    Approximately 48 per cent of Tweed’s residential waste is organic and could be diverted from landfill through composting. By introducing an organics system to collect not only garden waste but also food waste, Tweed could potentially meet the targets of diversion and prolong the life of our landfills.

    Disposing of organics to landfill as we currently do, can cause significant damage to the ozone layer through the generation of methane as it breaks down without oxygen.  This invariably leads to the production of leachate, which can contaminate the environment if not managed appropriately.

    By instead sending our organics to composting, we would be making use of a valuable resource that can be used to improve soil quality through the generation of high quality compost.

    What happens to the green waste and organics when it is collected?

    It is proposed that this material will be composted for application to soil. Council is currently working on a number of proposals that may benefit from this material including the sustainable agriculture project being undertaken by Council’s Community and Natural Resources division. With the inclusion of household food scraps into the compostable stream, the organic waste collected will need to be processed in a covered system to reduce any risks to the environment.

    What would I be able to put into each bin?

    If and when the new bin system is implemented, all residents will receive updated information explaining what can go into each bin and how often the bins will be serviced.

    The proposed bin system for the residential urban area is:

    ·  Weekly green lid organics bin (240L) to collect compostable items.  This would include garden prunings, food waste, compostable nappies, soiled paper,

    ·  Fortnightly red lid garbage bin (80L, 140L or 240L options) to collect any garbage that cannot be recycled or composted. Some of these items would include scrunchy plastics (eg. Plastic bags and wrapping), packing foam, expanded polystyrene, window glass / ceramics, non-compostable nappies (see nappy FAQ below) and clothing.

    ·  Fortnightly yellow lid recycling bin (240L or 360L options). There is no change to your recycling service – this bin will still accept plastic bottles/containers, glass bottles, metal tins, paper and cardboard.

    Where will I put my extra bin in my shared multi unit property?

    With multi-unit properties there is the ability to share bins or to have common bins for a complex. This will mean that a site can determine how many of each type of bin they will need to service the property. A Council Waste Management person can assist with any inquiries or planning for this.

    Is the service compulsory or can I stay with my current bins and services?

    If Council decides to implement the three bin system across the urban footprint the bins will be available to all properties. If a property does not want to use the service they do not have to, however Council will be obliged under the Local Government Act to charge for the service. 

    Will the red lid garbage bin now smell more because it is going to be collected on a fortnightly cycle?

    There should be no food or organic waste left in the red lid garbage bin so it should not present an odour issue. The only thing that is likely to require additional management are nappies and adult hygiene products.

    I have young children and use disposable nappies. Can I put these in the organics bin?

    There are disposal nappies that are suitable for placement into the organics bin which are referred to as compostable nappies. If you are using nappies that are not biodegradable or more specifically compostable, you cannot put them in the organics bin as this will contaminate the organics.  Non-compostable nappies would need to be placed in the red lid garbage bin.

    What if I don’t want to use compostable nappies?

    There is always the option of using cloth nappies. Whilst this is not always convenient it does reduce the cost and protect the environment.

    There is also the option of either individual bags or the nappy bins which allow odour-free storage of a significant number of nappies. These are lined with a continuous plastic bag which seals in the odour and makes handling and disposal easier.

    Brands on the market include Tommee Tippee sungenic, Diaper Genie by Angel Care and Munchkin baby nappy disposal bin. There are also versions for use with aged care and incontinence pads.

    Council would be investigating options to either sell these (and compostable nappies) and/or promote local businesses who stock them.

    I live on a farm or larger rural property. Will I be getting the organics service?

    The current proposal is to not provide the service to rural properties as they generally can and do use the organics on site at home through either composting, worm farming or as food for chooks and the like. Another important part of the new strategy involves Council encouraging and fostering composting and worm farming by holding workshops and providing subsidised worm farms and compost bins.

    Why is Council looking at the kerbside biannual bulk waste service?

    Each time the kerbside bulky service is provided Council is forced to deal with a significant number of complaints on illegal dumping and how untidy the Tweed looks because of this service. The current service also presents both environmental and workplace health and safety risks.

    Another factor is cost - with only a few years to go on the current contract, Council expects the new contract to increase significantly in cost and therefore needs to be prepared with options if that were the case.

    Through the Strategy, Council will be seeking community feedback on the service to explore options of how we can offer a much better alternative.  Similar services are provided in other regions in a number of varied ways and the flexibility of these alternatives may be favoured by residents.

    Why should Council be concerned with regional collaboration?

    With all services there is a potential for Council to save in the cost of providing services when the services are provided at a larger scale. This makes things potentially more economical. It also means that activities that are not economically viable for Council to do on their own may be cost effective on either a regional or sub-regional level.

    One of the most valuable things that comes out of working closely with other stakeholders and neighbours in the region is the ability to share in the knowledge and learning experiences, thus ensuring services are implemented and or undertaken in the most effective manner.