Next week, Bega Valley Shire Council will vote on a proposal to introduce new kerbside and bin bank collections to more than 1100 rural residents, reopen the fire-damaged Bemboka Waste Transfer Depot, and construct a new state-of-the-art resource recovery precinct at the Central Waste Facility.
The proposal would be delivered in stages over five years and create new employment opportunities, stimulate the local economy, extend the life of the landfill and meet national waste diversion targets.
The proposal comes from council’s director of assets and operations, Anthony McMahon, who said the risks of not changing the way council manages its waste are far greater than accepting the proposed changes.
“We appreciate some aspects of our proposal will be challenging to deliver, but we must move forward to provide the best possible waste management services to our community, meet national waste diversion targets and reduce our environmental impacts,” he said.
Mr McMahon said although a primary objective of minimising waste to landfill is to reduce the region’s environmental footprint, the proposal also has clear economic and financial drivers.
“Council’s waste transfer stations operate at a considerable net loss due to the high cost of servicing relative to the amount of waste they process,” he said. “Council needs to improve the quality and number of service locations provided – less sites done better.”
Mr McMahon said the proposal would have far-reaching benefits, with the 2018 National Waste Policy identifying that every 10,000 tonnes of waste material equals 2.8 landfilling jobs, or 9.2 recycling jobs.
“Council’s waste strategy guides more than just diversion of material from landfill,” he said. “The benefits are far-reaching, with business and partnership opportunities being created as a direct result of the diversion.
“This then supports further opportunity to value-add to these products locally, and the cycle of opportunity continues.”
Mr McMahon congratulated the Bega Valley community for embracing resource recovery initiatives such as the FOGO bin collection service, while also creating community momentum for change through new businesses such as Ocean2Earth Australia, and programs such as Plastic Free Pambula.
“Our community are leaders and innovators, and people in the Bega Valley are making a difference when it comes to the way they think about waste,” he said.
“This proposal supports and encourages this innovation and leadership. It provides a pathway to a positive long-term future that gets as much use out of products and materials as possible and reduces the amount of waste we generate.”
Construction of a new state-of-the-art resource recovery precinct at the Central Waste Facility underpins the proposal, with a vision to create a circular economy that reuses, recycles and repurposes.
The proposal includes an immediate increase to opening hours at Bermagui Waste and Recycling Depot; further developing Bermagui and Eden waste transfer stations to encourage greater waste diversion; closing Candelo, Wallagoot, Bemboka and Merimbula waste transfer stations; and preparing a development application to expand the Central Waste Facility.
The changes are in line with council’s 10-year Waste Management and Resource Recovery Strategy (2018-2028) ‘Recycling the Future’, which aims to divert the amount of waste that goes to landfill and place the Bega Valley at the forefront of waste reduction initiatives to meet national environmental and regulatory best practice.
The Waste Facility Consolidation and Modernisation Project report will be published on the Bega Valley Shire Council website.