Shane Walden, Macedon Ranges Shire Council Director of assets and operations, explains the process that led to council’s 2020 introduction of kerbside glass and organics collections.
Q. What are some of the challenges surrounding collection and recycling in the Macedon Ranges?
A. Macedon Ranges Shire Council has experienced the same challenges faced by many Victorian councils during the current recycling crisis. The reduced capacity for processing of commingled recycling and fluctuating commodities markets have made it difficult to find a long-term, sustainable solution for managing the shire’s kerbside recycling material. Community sentiment towards recycling has been low, which has made it particularly challenging to keep bin contamination down, particularly in the recycling stream. It is more important than ever to continue to educate the community and reinforce the message that, with their help, we can continue to recycle.
Q. How is council going to manage the expansion of its kerbside organics collection to include food organics?
A. Council will be implementing the FOGO service in several stages. The first stage involves expanding the existing garden waste service to include food organics. The service will start in February 2020, and cover the major townships of Gisborne, Kyneton, Romsey, Riddells Creek, Macedon, Woodend and Lancefield.
In January 2020, FOGO bins, kitchen caddies, compostable liners and information packs were delivered to all shire residents receiving the service. The second stage will see the remaining townships of Malmsbury, Tylden, Monegeeta, Bullengarook and Darraweit Guim receive the FOGO service in 2021. The third stage will see the introduction the service to the remaining areas of the shire by 2025.
Q. How will food organics collection improve resource recovery in the shire?
A. Audits of residents’ kerbside bins were conducted and found that almost one third of the content of the general waste bins was food waste. This highlighted a significant improvement opportunity and helped to build a strong case for a full food organics collection service. The new FOGO service will divert more than 2300 tonnes of food waste and 3000 tonnes of garden waste from landfill. Food and garden waste will be composted for use in agriculture and local parks and gardens.
Q. Council is also introducing a separate, glass-only bin collection service: why did you choose to endorse this?
A. Following the 2018 recycling crisis, council began to investigate possible solutions to improve the value and ongoing stability of its commingled recycling service. A major opportunity highlighted by council was the potential separation of glass from the commingled recycling.
The closure of SKM’s recycling facilities in 2019 put further pressure on council to take action to ensure the long-term sustainability of its recycling service. Discussions were held with council’s collection contractor Four Seasons Waste and recycling company Australian Paper Recovery (APR), which operates a glassless materials recovery facility in Truganina, Melbourne. APR’s materials recovery process separates commingled recycling into separate materials streams for reprocessing locally in Victoria; however, they do not accept glass.
A glass collection trial was also undertaken in the town of Lancefield between August 2019 and January 2020 to assess the viability of a separate, glass-only collection service. Council staff audited both the recycling and glass-only material at regular intervals throughout the trial to assess the uptake of the glass-only bin and to track the progress of the trial. The audit results showed that the provision of a kerbside glass service in Lancefield saw 98.8 per cent of glass diverted from the commingled recycling bin into the glass-only bin. Consequently, the glass content of the commingled recycling bins reduced from more than 30 per cent down to approximately one per cent by weight over the six-month trial. Council conducted an options analysis and impact assessment informed by the successful findings from the trial and market capability analysis, and the decision was confirmed to introduce a shire-wide glass-only collection service.
Q. How will glass kerbside collections be rolled out?
A. Glass-only bins (purple lid) were delivered to shire residents in January 2020, concurrently with FOGO bin deliveries. There will be a collection every four weeks from February 2020.
A continued communication and education campaign has been a key part of the rollout, to ensure the community is aware of the service changes and understands the reasons for the changes. The reaction of the community to the glass-only and FOGO services has been largely positive, with many residents pleased that council is taking positive steps to address the recycling issues we are currently facing.
This article was published in the March edition of Waste Management Review.