Coolamon Shire Council’s Executive Manager Planning and Environmental Services Colby Farmer explains how the council’s food and garden organics collection is driving diversion in the region.
Q. What are some of the challenges surrounding collection and recycling in the shire?
A. Coolamon Shire is one of the richest agricultural and pastoral districts in the Riverina and is renowned for its production of wheat, canola, barley, oats and other cereal crops, as well as hay and chaff. Wool, lamb and beef are also important products from the area.
The challenges include a distance between towns and villages, contamination of waste streams and providing value for money to residents who pay the waste levy for services. Engaging collection contractors who provide value for money, is another challenge, but we try to give predominance to services originating in major rural areas.
Q. Which bin system do you use and why?
A. Council uses a three-bin system in its two major towns being Coolamon and Ganmain. The system utilises a 140-litre household bin, 240-litre recycling and 240-litre food and garden organics bin.
The remaining villages are serviced by a two-bin system that incorporates a 40-litre household bin and 240-litre recycling system.
Q. What has been working particularly well over recent years for the council in terms of waste management/recycling services?
A. The introduction of a food organics and garden organics service in Coolamon and Ganmain has worked really well, with the respective communities really taking ownership and participating in the service.
There has been a marked reduction in disposal of recycling materials that go into landfill cells due to the introduction of recycling bins, ongoing education campaigns and the implementation of the NSW Container Deposit Scheme.
The introduction of the Community Recycling Sheds in partnership with the NSW EPA has worked really well in separating and disposing of materials off-site in an environmentally friendly/sustainable manner.
Q. What qualities do you look for in a successful tender?
A. For a successful tender our fundamentals are to look for quality and service delivery, their waste education services, reporting commitments, communication, waste diversion initiatives and regulatory compliance. Of course, value for money also plays an essential role.
Q. How do you see waste management evolving in regional NSW and how do you keep pace with change?
A. Waste management and resource recovery in particular, has been a major challenge for many councils in the region.
Many councils are geographically large, sparsely populated, and rural/remote in nature. The low volumes of waste generated in rural townships and large travel distances have hindered the aggregation of waste materials for recycling and the rationalising of landfill operations.
Waste management in rural areas will continue to evolve and keep pace with change by continuing to explore improvements in recycling and resource recovery rates and reducing contamination and waste to landfill.
Achieving cost savings, delivering education campaigns to improve waste management behaviour and achieving higher environmental standards will also prove to be important.