Green futures: Wingecarribee Shire Council

Mandalay Technologies has been helping the community of Wingecarribee Shire achieve its ambitious waste targets through the power of data.

The locals in the Wingecarribee Shire are committed to reducing how much waste gets sent to landfill. In the town of Bundanoon in NSW, they’ve banned all plastic bottles and working towards doing the same for plastic bags. In other regions within the shire, community groups have set up worm farms and workshops to teach people how to reduce their waste.

Chris Murphy, Waste Co-ordinator at Wingecarribee Shire Council, says the region is setting the benchmark when it comes to the way it handles waste and recycling. He says the Wingecarribee Community Recycling Centre is one of the best in NSW and has had representatives from the South Australian Government and Queensland Governments inspect it to help facilities in their own backyard.

The council is aiming to reach a 90 to 95 per cent diversion from landfill rate. Chris believes that the target is achievable, with a little help from properly managed data.

As waste coordinator, Chris’ role is to run projects, compliance, and to think about the future. He says finding alterative waste solutions is crucial to the way the council does business.

“Ensuring that we have clean, unambiguous data is very important to us. It lets us make good business decisions for the future and tells us what we need to be focusing on,” he says.

“We find having the data on hand is important for our own business decisions for future projects as well. It answers questions about whether or not we need to invest more resources or space into recycling, or whether source separation should be a focus.”

To achieve a clean database, Chris and the Wingecarribee Shire Council began using Mandalay Technologies to assist them in 2012. Chris says that their system has helped him validate the data and keep it up to date.

“We had previously been missing some understanding of the data. It used to be ambiguous and we found that looking into it on an in-depth scale highlighted errors,” Chris says.

“When I first started, we had a truck with 10 tonnes of cardboard leaving every week.

“Now, we’ve been able to look at the data and invest in a cardboard baler and change it to 40 tonnes due to compaction, saving on fuel and getting us better rates, due to supplying a baled product.”

Chris says the council has reached a point where it is able to provide a report for the NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) at the click of a button.

Compiling the data for reports was a daily data entry requirement. The new reporting functions allows instant reporting which provides additional time for other tasks that need to be completed.

Chris says they’re able to collect information on tonnage, market prices, weights of trucks, and items like tyres or asbestos, with the ability to flag the correct reports.

“We’re now able to use a dashboard and have minute-by-minute onsite information, including data such as vehicle sizes, traffic management flow, where they went on site and how much time they spent on site,” he says.

“By being able to keep track of our waste streams, we can see how much we’re taking in and decide how we can handle it more efficiently.”

He says because Mandalay’s system is in the cloud, the council is now able to access the data when out of the office and over the phone.

Chris says Mandalay’s systems are helping the community attain ambitious targets. With a domestic kerbside diversion rate of 63.5 per cent, the Wingecarribee region is close to NSW EPA targets of 70 percent by 2021.

“Being able to understand the waste movements lets us find the areas of concern and how to address them. The council has been able to seek out areas to optimise our diversion from landfill and rates for disposal,” Chris says.

Mandalay’s support and national reach has been helpful to share information and connections which Chris says are vital.

“Networking, brainstorming and connections with other councils has shown us a lot of innovative alternatives to help with our recycling and reuse programs. The contacts have helped us share ideas and provide a lot of opportunities.

“Our residents have been enjoying it too. The community has praised a lot of our new business decisions and we’ve been using that as an opportunity to help spread education through active community groups.”