Leading the recycling revolution: Moyne Shire Council

A year after state-wide disruptions to Victoria’s recycling industry, a small municipality in the state’s south west has quietly taken matters into its own hands, Annette Cannon, Moyne Shire Council Waste Education Officer explains. 

Moyne Shire Council was among the first in Australia to introduce a four-bin waste collection system as part of a long-term solution to the recycling crisis.

Weeks before the Victorian Government announced plans to roll out a state-wide, four-bin system from 2021, Moyne Shire had already taken delivery of its first glass recycling collection.

The council took the bold decision to introduce a fourth bin for glass in September 2019, at a time when just a handful of municipalities were considering the idea.

Just 16 weeks later, the first kerbside glass recycling collection took place across Moyne Shire in early February 2020.

Moyne Shire Mayor Daniel Meade said glass accounted for about 40 per cent of recyclables in Council’s kerbside collections.

“China’s 2018 ban on importing a range of recyclable materials sent our waste management industry into a tailspin,” he said.

“Like a lot of other councils, we were forced to send all recyclables into landfill from about July 2019. Our council and our community decided we just couldn’t sit by and allow that to continue to happen.”

Aside from the serious environmental implications, Mr Meade said the cost of sending recyclable materials to landfill could not be sustained.

Moyne Shire, which takes in coastal Port Fairy and extends inland to the townships of Macarthur, Hawkesdale and back to the Great Ocean Road at Peterborough, has a track record for leadership in waste management.

It has provided a food and organic waste collection service since 2009, many years ahead of other municipalities. This includes provision of a benchtop caddy for food waste.

A NEW REGIME

Under Moyne Shire’s new four-bin regime, glass is collected monthly, recycling and FOGO fortnightly and landfill collected weekly.

In the first month over 40 tonnes of glass was collected with a less than five per-cent contamination rate. This is equivalent to more than 195,000 glass bottles.

Moyne Shire’s initial plan was to conduct a trial within the township of Koroit. However, with mounting concern over the re-routing of recyclables into landfill, council moved quickly to implement a more universal solution.

The formal council decision in September 2019 to implement a Shire-wide, four-bin collection service triggered a frenetic round of contract negotiations with new recycling suppliers.

Under the revised contract, recyclables are now processed by Australian Paper Recovery at Truganina, near Melbourne. Australian Paper Recovery can process recyclables that are not contaminated by glass.

Glass is processed locally for use as a substitute for sand in road construction. The contents of green FOGO bins are still composted for use as mulch across the Shire, while contents of red-lidded bins are directed to landfill.

BETTER4MOYNE

Community engagement and education proved to be key to the program’s early success.

A change in processor has meant that only certain plastics can be placed into the yellow recycling bin. Polyethylene terephthalate (marked with the recycling symbol 1) and high density polyethylene (recycling symbol 2) are both permissible. All other plastics must now be placed into the red bin destined for landfill.

A branded campaign, Better4Moyne, was developed to comprehensively engage with and educate the community about this and all other aspects of council’s new waste management regime.

Activities included regional media articles, frequent website and social media updates, letters to all residents, FAQ sheets, posters displayed in public spaces and displays of the new, purple-lidded bins in high traffic public spaces, including outside local supermarkets.

Council also created displays at regional community events, and officers spoke directly with numerous business and community groups.

A new Kerbside Waste Management Collection Guide was published detailing how to use the four-bin system. Together with a collection calendar, a hard copy of the guide was delivered to all residents with their new, purple-lidded bins.

WIN/WIN SOLUTION FOR DELIVERY LOGISTICS

The logistics of delivering 6000 new glass recycling bins across Moyne Shire’s 5500 square kilometres in time for the first collection was council’s next challenge.

The solution proved to be an innovative ‘win/win’ solution for both council and community.

Eight community groups were engaged to work with council to simultaneously hand deliver the new purple-lidded bins to each household.

These included the Koroit Cricket Club, MacArthur Men’s Shed, Woorndoo Mortlake Football Netball Club, Woorndoo Cricket Club, Nirranda Football Netball Club, Panmure Football Netball Club, Grassmere Primary School Parent and Friends and Port Fairy Football Netball Club.

Those groups received $5 for each bin delivered, creating a new fundraising stream for the groups.

MONITORING OUR SUCCESS

A rigorous inspection regime is an important facet of Moyne Shire’s new waste management program.

Kerbside inspections provide intelligence about recycling behaviour and contamination levels, while also presenting opportunity for more community education.

Where glass or recycling bins are found to be contaminated by incorrect items, a ‘bin reject’ sticker with a hand-written explanation to the householder is placed on the bin. The contents may or may not be collected, depending on the type of contamination.

Inspections during the first glass recycling collection showed relatively low levels of contamination. The primary concern was lids not being removed from glass bottles and jars.

External consultants will be engaged in the near future to conduct detailed kerbside audits. The results will help to evaluation the success of the new, four-bin system and will also inform ongoing community education messaging.

A LONG-TERM SOLUTION

The Victorian Parliamentary Enquiry into Recycling and Waste Management, tabled in November 2019, noted in part that one of the key ways to reduce contamination was by reducing glass in co-mingled recycling bins.

It called for greater source separation as a key measure for the long-term sustainability of Victoria’s waste management system.

Mr Meade said that as an early adopter of glass separation in Victoria and, indeed, the nation, Moyne Shire Council was playing an important leadership role.

“We hope other municipalities can learn from our experiences here at Moyne and ultimately follow suit,” he said.

Related stories:

Expanding kerbside in Macedon

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. 

Related stories:

VIC to introduce CDS and four bin kerbside system

The Victorian Government will introduce a container deposit scheme (CDS) by 2023, as part of a new suite of initiatives to reduce waste to landfill by 80 per cent over 10 years.

A four bin kerbside system will also be rolled out as part of a $129 million overhaul of the state’s waste and recycling sector, with seperate bins for glass, food and garden organics, household waste and plastic, metal and paper.

Premier Daniel Andrews said that by collecting glass separately, Victoria can ensure effective recycling, with jars and bottles transformed multiple times into different products, including new roads and footpaths.

“Separate glass collection will also make recovery of other recyclables – like plastic, metal and paper – simpler, with the food and organic bin significantly reducing the amount of waste going to landfill,” he said.

According to Mr Andrews, the bin rollout will begin gradually next year – informed by the needs of local communities and existing council contracts.

“There will also be special arrangements for remote regional households and people in apartments, to ensure everyone gets access to the new four-bin system,” he said.

“This represents a holistic approach to reducing, reusing and recycling our state’s waste. That’s good news for Victoria’s environment and good news for Victorian jobs.”

Waste management will also be classified as an essential service under the new system, to ensure a basic standard of service across the state.

Additionally, a dedicated waste authority will be established to help the state better govern its recycling system and hold waste service providers to account.

“An education and behaviour change campaign will support the rollout of the initiatives. It will target households, businesses, councils, community groups and charities – helping them transition to the new system,” Mr Andrews added.

The Victorian Waste Management Association (VWMA) has welcomed the changes, highlighting Victoria as the only Australian jurisdiction without a CDS currently in place.

VWMA CEO Peter Anderson said the association sees tremendous benefits for Victoria through the introduction of the scheme, including less rubbish sent to landfill, less litter from single use items covered by the scheme and the opportunity to further build public awareness about waste and recycling.

“The Victorian Government is to be congratulated for listening to stakeholders from the waste and recycling sector on the development of this CDS, which will transform how Victorians dispose of certain materials,” Mr Anderson said.

“It’s important that Victorians understand that this is not about imposing additional costs or inconvenience when it comes to disposal of recyclables. It’s about dramatically increasing the amount of waste that gets recycled and, conversely, reducing how much we send to landfill.”

The VWMA has worked closely with the Victorian Government to establish the scheme, Mr Anderson said, and looks forward to further engagement and consultation.

“As part of the transition to a CDS, change and adjustment will be required of every Victorian household and we may need to do things differently,” he said.

“Changes to the size of our bins and frequency of collection will be likely, and we look forward to working with the Victorian Government to help educate Victorians on the many environmental and economic benefits a CDS will deliver.”

Related stories:

East Waste introduces SA’s first electric-powered collection truck

South Australia’s first electric-powered kerbside collection truck has taken to the streets of metropolitan Adelaide this week.

The new truck is owned and operated by waste and resource management company East Waste, a subsidiary of seven metropolitan Adelaide councils.

East Waste General Manager Rob Gregory said the new truck replaces a diesel-powered truck and, with zero emissions, will remove the equivalent of 20 vehicles generating 63 tonnes of carbon dioxide every year from Adelaide’s suburban streets.

The truck, supplied by Australian company Superior Pak with drivetrain technology from SEA Electric, is the first in a fleet replacement program.

“It will deliver financial gain to better manage the cost of kerbside collections of recyclable resources and waste,” Mr Gregory said.

“We conservatively project that our new electric vehicle will save more than $220,000 over the seven-year life of its diesel predecessor.”

According to Mr Gregory, East Waste has installed a 30 kilowatt solar system at its Ottaway depot to produce renewable energy for the truck’s batteries.

“Residents will fall in love with our new truck without realising it,” he said.

“With reduced air pollution comes the removal of noise pollution as the truck travels from house to house on bin collection day. It is almost silent.”

Related stories:

Yarra to introduce four bin kerbside system

Yarra City Councillors have voted to roll out a four-bin kerbside system, with separate bins supplied for organics and glass.

According to councillor Misha Coleman, the new waste and recycling collection model is based on a successful trial of 1300 households in Abbotsford in Melbourne’s inner north.

“The new service introduces a new food and green waste service that will be collected weekly, removing much of the material that causes odours,” she said.

“Another additional new bin will be added for glass, which will be processed locally and used to make new glass containers and for local asphalt.”

Under the new system, glass, commingled recycling and landfill waste bins will be collected fortnightly.

Ms Coleman said Yarra City Council first began the trial “because recycling in Australia is in crisis.”

“It’s time we did things very, very differently, and councils and communities like ours are providing the leadership to drive change in this industry,” she said.

“There is a growing trend of councils moving to greater separation of waste to reduce reliance on unsustainable landfills and to improve reuse of recyclable materials. Eleven other councils in Victoria are moving to a fortnightly landfill waste collection service.”

Ms Coleman added that as a result of the trial, Yarra has seen a dramatic reduction in waste sent to landfill: diverting roughly 60 per cent of all household waste.

“The benefits of this new system include a significant reduction in the amount of waste sent to landfill, a substantial increase in the quality of recyclable materials, and very significant reductions in truck movements around our city, which will reduce vehicle emissions,” she said.

According to Ms Coleman, under the 4-bin model, households will have an increased bin capacity of 50 litres per week.

“We surveyed over 400 residents in the trial area. Almost 80 per cent told us they think these changes are an improvement in managing waste, and just under 90 per cent support separating their waste for collection,” she said.

“Almost 73 per cent of trial participants were satisfied with the fortnightly garbage collection.”

Changes will come into effect from July 2020.

Related stories:

Warrnambool begins kerbside glass collection trial

A kerbside glass collection trial has begun in Warrnambool with 3400 properties.

According to a council statment, the four-bin system means households will have their glass and recycling bins picked up from the first week of February, with rubbish and FOGO bins collected the following week.

“Glass collected will be crushed and re-used in road construction,” the statement reads.

Warrnambool Mayor Tony Herbert said the move to a four-bin kerbside system had the potential to reduce the Municipal Waste Charge for each property by roughly $10 annually.

“It’s expensive to separate these items and when glass breaks and embeds in paper or cardboard, it means that these materials – which are otherwise recyclable – can end up in landfill,” Mr Herbert said.

“As well as obviously being a poor environmental outcome, sending material to landfill is expensive because of the Victorian Government’s landfill levy.”

Mr Herbert said responses to a public survey in 2019 helped council reach its decision.

“The most popular survey response was the introduction of kerbside glass collection, alongside a larger rubbish bin that is collected fortnightly,” he said.

“This means that there are the same number of ‘bin lifts’ and truck movements but with an improved recycling outcome.”

The kerbside glass collection will be supplemented with bottle banks at Bunnings, the Dennington Shopping Centre and Norfolk Plaza. These will accept all household glass.

“The bottle banks allow anyone who isn’t currently part of the kerbside glass collection trial to begin separating their glass straight away,” Mr Herbert said.

“The new four-bin system and the bottle banks are a trial. We will use this effort to gather information about how people use the service and how it might be improved.”

Related stories:

Macedon Ranges to roll out seperate kerbside glass collections

Macedon Ranges Shire Council in Victoria is rolling out seperate kerbside glass collections, following a successful 2019 trial.

According to a council statment, the decision comes after Macedon Ranges was one of 33 Victorian councils affected by the closure of recycling processor SKM Recycling.

“A new recycling processor has been identified, but only if glass is removed from the household recycling bins,” the statement reads.

In a 2019 statement, Acting Assets and Operations Director Anne-Louise Lindner said residents needed to work with council to find alternatives to landfill.

“We really hope the community will come on board and help us to remove glass from [general] recycling bins,” Ms Lindner said.

“Shards and small pieces of glass can become embedded in paper and cardboard in recycling bins, and contaminate the other recyclables.”

Macedon’s new 140 litre glass-only bins will be collected every four weeks and have purple lids.

Related stories: 

Macedon Ranges to introduce kerbside food collection

Macedon Ranges Shire Council is expanding its kerbside collection to include food organics, after receiving $182,000 in funding from the state government.

According to Environment Minister Lily D’Ambrosio, the project, worth over $460,000, has the potential to divert an estimated 4864 tonnes of organic material from landfill and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 8241 tonnes.

“This will support Macedon Ranges Shire Council to better divert food and organic waste from landfill, including providing infrastructure to residents such as kitchen caddies, liners and kerbside bins,” Ms D’Ambrosio said.

“It’s crucial we continue to support projects like these across regional Victoria – they boost jobs, divert more waste from landfill and reduce emissions.”

Managed by statutory authority Sustainability Victoria, the funding comes from the state government’s $26 million Resource Recovery Infrastructure Fund, which aims to support infrastructure investment to improve collection and reprocessing.

Previous recipients include the City of Greater Geelong to develop laneway recycling for retail and hospitality outlets, Advanced Circular Polymers to assist the development of Australia’s largest plastic recycling facility and Ararat Rural City Council to consolidate three existing rural facilities.

Related stories:

Recycling returns to G21 region under Cleanaway agreement

Municipal recycling will resume for residents on the Bellarine Peninsula 16 December, under a new agreement between Cleanaway and the Geelong Region Alliance.

Kerbside recycling ceased after the collapse of SKM Recycling earlier this year, with the City of Greater Geelong, Surf Coast Shire Council, Golden Plains Shire and the Borough of Queenscliffe forced to send recyclables to landfill.

Under the agreement, Cleanaway will work with councils to develop local uses for collected material by identifying local secondary markets, with an initial focus on glass reuse.

According to a Cleanaway statement, the agreement includes a discount for councils with low contamination rates.

City of Greater Geelong Waste Management Chair Ron Nelson said the community had been disappointed to see the contents of yellow bins sent to landfill.

“The return of our kerbside recycling service is very good news. We’re now asking for everyone’s help to make it a success by getting back in the habit of sorting your recycling, and learning about the changes to what can and can’t be put in your yellow bin,” Mr Nelson said.

“In the meantime we will continue to work on new ideas to make sure we have the most effective recycling system possible in the long-term.”

Related stories:

Tasmanian council ceases kerbside recycling

A Tasmanian council will cease kerbside recycling operations from 2020, as part of an overhaul of the region’s waste management strategy.

According to West Coast Council General Manager David Midson, there is limited uptake of recycling bins in the area, with an average 10 per cent of households using the service.

“Recycling collected is often so contaminated that council must expend significant funds to have it sorted and cleaned or allow it to be sent to landfill,” Mr Midson said.

“To resolve these issues in 2020-2021, council aims to move away from kerbside collection and instead provide central separated recycling bins where residents will be able to dispose of recyclables free of charge.”

Other changes to council’s waste management strategy include proactively monitoring illegal dumping and trialling green waste collection at transfer stations for 12 months.

“Currently, green waste deposited at the transfer stations is highly contaminated, resulting in significant council expenditure,” Mr Midson said.

“If this continues, council will move green waste collection to the landfill only, and assess the potential for green waste collection bins.”

Additionally, waste transfer stations will only accept limited categories of waste including domestic waste, oil and green waste from 2020.

Items such as asbestos, tyres, car bodies, concrete, rock rubble and soil will only be accepted at landfill.

Mr Midson said waste management on the West Coast cannot continue as business as usual.

“Current practices do not meet our environmental obligations, our obligations to provide a safe workplace, or the expectations of the community,” Mr Midson said.

“If we continue down the current path, the cost of waste management to ratepayers will increase dramatically.”

Related stories: 

X