Bin sensors installed in NSW

In a first for the region, Central Coast Council has installed a new solar compaction bin and connected 46 new sensors to existing waste stations across Entrance Town in New South Wales.

The new technology monitors the volume of bins to improve servicing schedules.

Council Waste Director Boris Bolgoff said the investment is part of council’s Place Litter Bin Replacement and Upgrade Program, which aims to increase waste collection and reduce flyaway litter.

“The cloud-based software provides real-time data on the volume of bins to any web enabled device, with alerts set up for when bins are reaching capacity,” Mr Bolgoff said.

“This will allow constant monitoring of bins during busier times of the year, helping to reduce the impacts of litter and improve planning as crews will already know which bins need to be emptied.”

Mr Bolgoff said the new service also includes a single waste solar compactor system, which has a capacity five times higher than a traditional bin.

“This financial year will see a further $300,000 invested into the rolling Public Place Bin Program, with another 160 new waste and recycling units installed to help manage the waste needs of the growing community,” Mr Bolgoff said.

“If successful, we will investigate rolling out the technology in other popular tourism and high foot traffic areas.”

According to Mr Bolgoff, additional benefits include cost savings by purchasing waste stations in bulk, more effective maintenance, consistent design, increased safety and opportunities to recycle.

Central Coast Council Mayor Lisa Matthews said it was great to see council investing in new technology.

“I applaud council for listening to and acting upon community concerns regarding litter bins during peak holiday times,” Ms Matthews said.

“Aside from protecting our unique environment from litter, the project will help maintain the appearance of our well-known tourist destinations, which is integral to the economic development of the region.”

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Planning for national solar panel product stewardship underway

Research for a national product stewardship program for photovoltaic systems, which include solar panels, is underway.

Research for a national product stewardship program for photovoltaic systems, which include solar panels, is underway.

Sustainability Victoria has appointed product stewardship consultant Equilibrium to analyse and assess potential options for a national product stewardship to help manage end of life products.

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Photovoltaic (PV) panels and associated products and equipment have been identified as a rapidly growing e-waste stream in the future. For the project, “PV systems” have neem defined to include panels and PV system accessories such as inverter equipment and energy storage systems.

Equilibrium has opened an online survey to gather input and information form manufacturers, installers, project developers, the energy industry, and peak bodies.

The information gathered by the survey along with other evidence gathered will support the assessment of potential options.

Organisations and individuals interested in the project can complete the survey here.

New solar powered composter for Canberra community

A new solar powered composter has been unveiled at the Canberra Environment Centre to launch the Canberra Community Composting project.

The composter was purchased by the centre after it received a $24,200 grant from the ACT Government’s Community Zero-Emissions Grants program.

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Food scraps can be dropped off at the Environment Centre to be processed by the new machine, nicknamed The Hungry Composter. The project aims to support members of the community who feel as if they don’t have the time, space or knowledge to compost at home.

The Hungry Composter is able to process 100 litres of mixed waste a day, including paper, cardboard, food scraps and green waste. It is solar power, odourless, continuous-feed system that processes food scraps into ready-to-use compost within 10-14 days.

Community members need to register with the Environment Centre before disposing of their waste for composting.

ACT Government Sustainability Programs Senior Manager, Ros Malouf said it was a fantastic example of a community group working with the ACT government to implement a project which will have significant benefits for both residents and the environment.

“In addition to generating nutrient rich soil, composting is a great way to reduce emissions. Organic material sent to landfill produces methane, a greenhouse gas that is approximately 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide.”

Solar farm planned on top of Newcastle landfill

A new solar farm is slated to be built on a capped landfill site in Newcastle to significantly reduce the council’s annual $4 million electricity bill.

The farm adds on to one of Australia’s most advanced renewable energy setups at a waste facility, which already has a 2.2-megawatt landfill gas generator and a small wind turbine.

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With the additional energy available, the farm could lead to electric garbage trucks and improved battery storage.

The size of the new farm will cover an area of around five football fields between Summerhill’s entry road and construction waste area.

Construction is planned to begin in June and it is estimated the farm will save around $9 million after construction and operational costs are factored.

The farm’s 14,500 panels will be built by Lendlease and with most of the finance lent to Newcastle City Council through the Clean Energy Finance Corporation’s (CEFC) Local Government Finance Program.

“I’d like to thank the Clean Energy Finance Corporation for its incredible support of the City of Newcastle’s sustainability charter,” Newcastle Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes said.

“The solar farm will produce enough energy to run the equivalent of 1,300 households, which promises significant environmental returns for ratepayers and millions of dollars in savings on electricity costs,” she said.

“We are building sustainability into everything we do after reiterating our commitment last year to generate 30 per cent of our electricity needs from low-carbon sources and cut overall electricity usage by 30 per cent by 2020.”

“Increasing our renewable energy capability and finding more energy-efficient solutions is an integral part of our long-term vision to become a smart, liveable and sustainable city,” Cr Nelmes said.

Newcastle City Council secured a $6.5 million loan from the CEFC to build the $8 million project.

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