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Summerhill Waste Management Facility.

Summerhill Waste Management Facility in New South Wales is key to the Hunter region’s plans to tackle waste.

A$40 million Materials Recovery Facility (MRF) in Newcastle will offer a “regional solution” for waste management.

To be built at the Summerhill Waste Management Facility, the MRF is tipped to play a key role in the region’s move toward a circular economy and its ability to address targets on waste diversion and recycling.

The project, expected to be complete by November 2022, will create ongoing jobs and provide additional processing capacity of 56,175 tonnes per annum (tpa). It was funded by the Australian Government’s Recycling Modernisation Fund and the New South Wales Government’s Waste Less, Recycle More initiative.

Newcastle Lord Mayor, Nuatali Nelmes, said the Summerhill Waste Management Facility will be the second largest and “most regionally significant” waste management facility in NSW, with more than 100 years of landfill capacity.

“Owned and operated by the City of Newcastle, the facility is strategically positioned to support the waste processing needs of the region’s growing population and set to capitalise on the renewed state and federal focus on waste and recycling,” Nelmes said.

“As there is no MRF currently operating in the Hunter region, the planned facility will be designed to cater to a regional solution.”

Nelmes said an organics plant, also to be built at Summerhill, would mean all of Newcastle’s red, yellow and green-bin domestic waste would be processed in the one location.

Core capacity of the planned MRF will be about 35,000 tpa with the ability to scale up to 100,000 tpa.

“The future organics plant and MRF will help to boost existing recycling capabilities, support innovative re-use of recycled materials and boost NSW’s recycling capacity,” Nelmes said.

“The MRF will ease pressure on the environment by recycling more material such as items in the yellow-lidded bin including plastics, glass, paper and cardboard, whilst creating jobs and economic investment in the Newcastle and Hunter region.

“The Federal Government reports around 9.8 jobs are created for every 10,000 tonnes of material recycled in comparison to less than three for landfill.”

Newcastle Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes and Deputy Lord Mayor Declan Clausen at Summerhill Waste Management Facility.
Newcastle Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes and Deputy Lord Mayor Declan Clausen at Summerhill Waste Management Facility.

Nelmes said the city consulted widely within the industry and neighbouring councils to identify a preferred location for an MRF.

She said 98 per cent of respondents to a survey of residents supported a facility being developed at Summerhill.

City of Newcastle has prepared concept designs, in conjunction with a site master plan, to ensure optimal location of the MRF alongside other waste diversion projects, such as the organics facility.

A 5MW solar farm and +2MW Landfill Gas energy project currently operate on the site.

Nelmes said next steps include further engagement with the market and relevant development approvals.

Earlier this year, Summerhill received approval to develop concept plans to use an unformed road reserve in the Lake Macquarie local government area as a second southern access road to the facility.

Nelmes said the new access road will enable direct access to the site, diverting thousands of vehicles per year from the existing route.

She said heavy vehicles travelling from the west would likely save between 30 and 40 minutes per load, resulting in multi-million-dollar savings in transport costs over a 50-year period, based on current traffic.

Environment Minister Sussan Ley and Hollie Hughes, Liberal Senator for the Hunter Region, announced $5 million funding for the MRF in August.

“This is about easing pressure on our environment by recycling more materials including plastics, tyres, glass, cardboard and even coffee cups, and importantly, it is about creating jobs and economic investment,” Ley said at the time.

Other projects funded included five mobile facilities across Sydney to process almost 5000 tonnes of plastic each year, and state-of-the-art infrastructure in Erskine Park to reprocess 3200 tonnes of used tyres for use in road construction and manufactured rubber-based products.

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