16 June 2023

Volume of organic waste means Bega Valley will have new FOGO plant at Wolumla

| Albert McKnight
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The Central Waste Facility near Wolumla

The Central Waste Facility near Wolumla will be the site of a new organics processing plant for the Bega Valley. Photo: BVSC.

The amount of waste collected by the Food Organics and Garden Organics (FOGO) program in the Bega Valley and the lack of space at its current processing site have meant a new plant is needed for the shire.

Plans are in motion to build a new organics processing plant at the Central Waste Facility near Wolumla, with it expected to begin operations by the end of 2026.

“In the 12 months since the weekly FOGO service commenced in October 2018, the Merimbula Organics Processing Facility (OPF) received almost 5000 tonnes of FOGO and just over 3000 tonnes of garden organics (GO),” Bega Valley Shire Council’s waste project manager Kimberley Rushbrook said.

“During 2022, council received almost 6500 tonnes of FOGO and around 3500 tonnes of GO which was processed at the Merimbula OPF.”

Council says the weekly FOGO bin collection and composting service has been a huge success.

But it also says that its volume is projected to grow further and there is limited space to expand at the Merimbula site, which means a new location and operator for the organic processing service are needed.

“In 2021 an organics processing options analysis identified a preferred new site at the Central Waste Facility in Wolumla,” council said.

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Council’s waste strategy coordinator Tim Cook said the purpose-built organics processing plant would address increasing demand for the organisation’s green waste recycling service.

“This latest step will advance the project to a point where we can pick the right enterprise to run a bigger, better and expandable organics processing facility,” he said.

“As it stands, we have outgrown our current facility at the Merimbula Waste Transfer Station and yet we know there is still more organics to be captured and diverted away from landfill.”

An expression of interest process that was started earlier this year has resulted in the selection of three organisations with extensive processing experience.

These organisations have been invited to tender for the construction and operate a 15,000 tonne per annum facility at the CWF.

Mr Cook said a 10-year operations contract would be awarded to the successful tenderer, with options to extend in five-year increments thereafter.

“This process will ensure a forward-looking organic resource management service that will grow alongside the community’s needs,” he said.

“It’s a positive sign that in just five years of starting our FOGO service, we have seen such community participation that a new facility is needed.”

When asked about whether the Wolumla community had been consulted about how the new plant would be built in their region, Ms Rushbrook said that a number of community information sessions were organised around the Bega Valley in late 2020.

This was an opportunity to hear about the Waste Modernisation and Consolidation Project, which included a component about the organics processing facility moving to a new purpose-built facility at the CWF.

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Ms Rushbrook also said local residents to the CWF were invited to participate in the CWF Consultative Committee which met every six months and updates had been provided to participants.

“As part of the development process feedback will be sought from interested parties and the environmental impact statement will go on exhibition,” she said.

“Feedback will be welcomed through this process and a submissions report prepared to be submitted as part of the development approval process.”

The tender process closes in August and a recommendation will be presented to councillors at their meeting on 20 September.

An environmental impact statement and a development application are being prepared, with both to be submitted to the NSW Department of Planning and Industry by late 2024 after a public exhibition period.

Last year, council announced it was disappointed in the decision by the NSW Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) to introduce new regulations around what could and couldn’t be placed in the FOGO bins.

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