In New South Wales the Albury Waste Management Centre (AWMC) includes the fourth largest landfill in the state. Mike Ritchie explains how its Halve Waste initiative has become the most successful waste reduction program in Australia.
The Halve Waste Initiative has recently been awarded the best organics recovery program in NSW and the best local government initiative in sustainability.
Back in 2010, the AWMC was receiving almost 185,000 tonnes of waste, and burying 125,000 tonnes. The landfill was filling rapidly, and Albury City Council was concerned it would need to find a new landfill site. Instead, the City decided that reducing landfill volume via recycling was the most cost-effective way to manage waste.
Thus the ‘Halve Waste’ program was born. Halve Waste is based on collaboration between Albury City and Federation, Greater Hume, Wodonga, Indigo and Towong Councils.
Since 2010 Halve Waste has achieved a 50,000 tonne/year, or 38%, reduction in total waste buried annually at the AWMC, and is on track to achieve its 50% diversion target by 2020.
To put that in context, this is twice the total weight of all the disposable coffee cups used annually in Australia.
Halve Waste is a comprehensive and all-encompassing strategy to reduce landfill and increase recycling rates involving:
- An extensive $0.4m annual community education and business outreach program which has ensured strong community engagement and endorsement. Every business has been offered a free waste assessment and waste reduction action plan. TV, newsprint and radio advertising keeps people informed.
- The roll out of a new 3-bin FOGO collection service for residents and differential pricing at the landfill to make recycling free.
- A state of the art Recycling Centre developed with NSW Government grant funding support, enabling the separation of organics, building waste, plastics, cardboard, polystyrene, car batteries and other recyclable materials. Old refrigerators are degassed and recycled. TVs and electronic waste are recovered under the National Television and Computer Recycling Scheme.
- A $2m residential vehicle transfer station to permit additional on-site recycling of household waste.
- A $0.5m education centre currently being developed at the AWMC, and to be completed in 2019.
- A commercial and industrial sorting platform that has recovered 15,000 tonnes of commercial waste.
- A new resource recovery facility for construction and demolition waste planned to be in place by 2020.
This is what a real commitment to achieving diversion targets looks like. Landfill rates across Australia have been stuck at 22 MT/year. Very few landfills have achieved a sustained reduction in tonnages. Halve Waste provides a credible model for real reductions in landfill through improved diversion and recycling.
The result is that the landfill life has already been extended by 18 years and this will continue to grow as more initiatives reach maturity.
A video explaining the initiative can be viewed below.
Mike Ritchie is Director of Australian Environmental Consultancy, MRA Consulting Group which provides education/engagement services and strategy advice to Halve Waste. Mike can be reached via the MRA blog The Tipping Point.
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