Thursday, April 25, 2024

Coffs council awash with waste strategies

Coffs Harbour City Council is continuing to work on a future Waste Management Strategy that takes into account the potential opportunities available at a local, north coast and statewide level.

“Identifying and developing a new waste management solution is highly complex and reliant on a number of different external agencies and north coast councils,” said Council’s Director Sustainable Infrastructure, Mick Raby.

“As a result, the waste team is concurrently progressing a number of waste studies and strategies in order to develop a comprehensive solution for the future.”

Council staff have been working with 12 other councils, from Mid-Coast to Tweed Heads, supported by the Department of Regional NSW, to undertake an investigation into potential future regional waste management solutions for Northern NSW.

The North Coast Region Waste Investment Review provides the information base for councils to test the market for Alternate Waste Treatment solutions that are environmentally, economically and socially acceptable.

The final report is publically available online and outlines a range of potential regional waste solutions for Northern NSW Councils, including Coffs Harbour.

The NSW Government recently released a new Energy from Waste (EfW) Infrastructure Plan to support its NSW Waste and Sustainable Materials Strategy 2041. The plan recognises that thermal treatment of waste will definitely form part of the future solution for managing residual waste in NSW, providing an opportunity to replace less environmentally-sound energy sources, such as coal-fired power stations, and avoid methane emissions from landfill.

It identifies only four priority areas where future energy recovery facilities may be located in NSW, one of which is the Richmond Valley Regional Jobs Precinct. An EfW facility within Richmond Valley would provide a potential future solution for the Coffs Harbour local government area. Nine of the 12 Councils – including Coffs Harbour City Council – have agreed to look further into potential suitable regional waste management options.

At a local level, Council has also met with Nambucca Valley Council and Bellingen Shire Council to consider the review and update of the current Coffs Coast Regional Resource Recovery and Waste Management Strategy in light of recent policy and strategy changes at the NSW Government level.

“Fortunately, we’re ahead of the curve in regards to many of the recently announced State Government proposals as we have been running Food Organic and Garden Organics (FOGO) collections and landfill gas collection for many years,” said Mr Raby.

Council has also been continuing to work on the odour issue for which it is responsible at Englands Road. There are three potential odour-producing operations at the England Road facility. Only one of those – the landfill – is under the direct management of Council. The other two operations are separately licenced and regulated by the NSW Government’s Environmental Protection Authority (EPA).

Following improvement works, surface methane gas at the landfill has been reduced by 90% and the latest monitoring shows only one small area – less than two square meters – was above the EPA’s threshold, Mr Raby said.

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