Thursday, February 29, 2024

Shoalhaven wins circular award

Shoalhaven City Council has won the Transitioning to a Circular Economy Award at the Local Government NSW Excellence in Environment Awards for its integrated approach to resource recovery, prioritising reuse over recycling.  

During the past two years, Council has run several projects in parallel to achieve its target of diverting 90% of all waste from landfill by 2024. 

To address the gap in the market for recycling infrastructure, Council diversified its own waste facilities in West Nowra and launched projects which identify unique solutions to different waste streams. 

“As a regional Council and the sole landfill operator in the local government area, staff had to think outside the box to find sustainable solutions to reusing waste materials and reducing our environmental footprint,” said Mayor, Amanda Findley. 

“Our waste services team have worked hard to find new recovery options for different materials, even ones that have traditionally been considered unrecyclable, such as contaminated glass bottles and jars, and they’ve been incredibly successful.”

To date, 5,500 tonnes of washed glass sand has been used in asphalt for the Albion Park bypass and Nowra bridge duplication, the Mayor said.

“Not only does this save precious resources, but it builds a revenue stream and reduces landfill in the long run,” she said.

From January 2021 to June 2022, more than 21,000 tonnes of garden organics was processed and 12,000 tonnes given to the community for free. During the same time, 960 tonnes of items were resold through the recycling shop and 19,800 tonnes of recyclable materials were diverted from landfill, including glass, polystyrene and everyday materials such as mattresses, lounges, tyres and PVC pipes. 

Council’s investment in infrastructure includes the MICROfactorie, developed in partnership with the UNSW SMaRT Centre and the NSW Environmental Protection Agency to produce ‘green’ ceramic tiles and benchtops using a mixture of glass sand and textiles. 

This year, Council started construction of a new Bioelektra facility in Nowra that will process red-bin material and a materials recovery facility which will recover over 90% of the bin contents for recycling and reuse. 

Council is also in the design phase of delivering a Resource Recovery Learning Centre to provide a centralised hub for site tours, workshops and education.

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