A new world city – Brisbane City Council in focus

Waste Management Review talks to Councillor Peter Matic about how Brisbane City Council awarded its latest waste contracts totalling $3 billion.

Q. What makes Brisbane City Council unique to others out there?

A. As Australia’s new world city, Brisbane is a local government area that occupies over 1300 square kilometres, with a permanent resident population of more than 1.1 million. Brisbane City Council is committed to its vision of a clean, green and sustainable city and manages waste and resource recovery services for almost 500,000 properties across the city, managing approximately 2000 tonnes of waste each day.

Being Australia’s most sustainable city requires commitment, innovation and investment. Brisbane can be proud of what has been achieved but a significant amount of work lies ahead. Council is ambitious in its resolve to stay at the leading edge of city sustainability and recognises that this is a hallmark of a new world city. Council will take advantage of emerging trends and innovations to sustainably manage its increasing urban population. Our efforts towards keeping Brisbane clean, green and sustainable were recognised in 2014 and 2016 by the national Keep Australia Beautiful organisation when we were awarded Australia’s Most Sustainable City.

Q. Council was awarded $3 billion worth of waste contracts for 2018. How were the tenders planned?

A. In 2014, a small multifaceted project team within council was tasked with upgrading the tenders for four categories: collections; operation and maintenance of four resource recovery centres and its Rochedale Landfill; third party waste disposal services; and green waste processing.

Council consulted with its colleagues and the waste industry both locally and internationally to inform its four tender categories and possible candidates, leading to their publication in July 2016.

During the intensive industry consultation phase, council, with the help of consultants, analysed and modelled a number of possible contracting and governance options. These models were tailored to local conditions, as comparing international conditions can be difficult due to factors such as legislative disparities; and environment, climate and customer expectations. This was an important step to allow council to seek international expressions of interest.

Q. What were some of the tender categories and how were they evaluated?

A. The first tender category included waste, recycling and green waste collection services, encompassing the collection of general waste, recyclables and green waste from wheelie bins, kerbside or the designated collection spot. This included the collection of general waste and recyclables from bulk bins in multi-unit dwellings and general waste and recyclables from public place bins.

The second tender category focused on the operation and maintenance of council’s four resource recovery centres in Willawong, Chandler, Nudgee and Ferny Grove, two tip shops as well as council’s Rochedale Landfill and transporting waste between the different facilities.

The third category focused on waste disposal services and our panel of suppliers and the final category looked at green waste processing services and a supplier panel. 

Council’s key evaluation criteria included experience and track record, capability and capacity, compatibility, commercial matters, innovation and best value for money. The evaluation of tenders involved multiple stages with rounds of feedback being undertaken with tenderers to clarify and fully understand offers.

Q. What was the timeframe for the rollout of the contracts?

A. One significant change with Brisbane’s contracts was to the length of the collection contract. While most collection contracts in Australia are eight years in duration, council sought to change the contract structure to 16 years. The reason for this was that Brisbane’s structure required a mix of different collection vehicles that have varying lifespans, indicating contract durations beyond eight years would yield better value for money.

Supporting the contract length change was the life expectancy of vehicles. The different collection vehicle types have varying expected service life. Side arm collection vehicles generally last between eight and 10 years, while rear or front lift can reach up to 12 years. By combining a longer contract term and fleet flexibility, as well as the use of some used vehicles under strict conditions, council is better able to cater for the significant service growth and at the same time maintain the fleet in the best possible condition to ensure service high standards are met.

With 16-year contracts, contractors welcomed the opportunity to invest in infrastructure, generate savings with longer-term thinking and offer long-term employment for staff.

The successful tenderers were:

Waste, Recycling and Green Waste Collection Services – SUEZ

Resource Recovery Innovation Alliance – Cleanaway

Waste Disposal Services panel of suppliers – REMONDIS Swanbank Renewable Energy and Waste Management Facility and Veolia and J.J. Richards Ti-Tree BioEnergy facility

Green Waste Processing Services panel of suppliers – NuGrow Metro, Phoenix Power Recyclers and Wood Mulching Industries.

These four contract categories were awarded earlier than usual, with up to a year before the contracts commence in July 2018. This was planned in order to minimise disruption to services across the city.

Council also recently renewed major arrangements with resource recovery company Visy for the processing of recycling to align with the commencement of the other contracts in 2018. We also have a long-term strategic agreement with SULO in 2016 for the supply and maintenance of council’s wheelie bins and public place waste infrastructure.

Q. What have been some of the key achievements from council in diverting waste from landfill over the last few years?

A. Council has made great progress in the areas of waste and resource recovery with a 13 per cent reduction in domestic waste to landfill per person since 2008, 50 per cent less litter on city streets since 2009 and a more than 20 per cent reduction in green waste being sent to landfill since the introduction of dedicated green waste bins in 2010.

Q. What does the future hold for council and reducing waste to landfill?

A. Council will continue to work towards reducing waste to landfill and increase resource recovery to reduce carbon emissions. Council is also building on its commitment to reduce litter to help protect the city’s waterways, open spaces and quality of life.

Exploration into new technologies over the coming years will take a value for money approach and utilise learnings from around the world.

Most collection vehicles have an operational life of eight to 10 years and at present the use of electric or hybrid vehicles for waste collection do not represent the best value for residents.

However, when the next round of collection vehicles is due to be procured, the equipment and technology available will be reviewed and a decision made as to the best value at that time, demonstrating the flexibility of the contracts to cope with a changing and evolving industry.