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Albury council’s decade-long waste program close to goal of halving waste to landfill

In 2009, the Albury Waste Management Centre (AWMC) was bearing 100 per cent of the region’s local waste. Having the fourth largest landfill in NSW, the Albury City Council set out to change the way this waste was being processed, so it established a goal to halve the amount of waste going into the AWMC by 2020.

With an upgrade to a three-weighbridge system that identifies recyclables and the volumes recycled, among a redesign that began in 2009, as well as educational infrastructure changes, the council was able to achieve a 55 per cent diversion of waste on site and a 38 per cent reduction in waste buried at the landfill. It has also seen the amount of recycled material double in the past decade.

In the 2018/19 financial year the AWMC received 165,486 tonnes of waste, buried 88,000 tonnes and 77,000 tonnes was recycled. In comparison in 2008, the centre received 198,000 tonnes of waste – of which 150,000 tonnes was buried and 48,000 tonnes was recycled.

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Further achievements for the 2018/19 financial year included a 47 per cent diversion of municipal solid waste (MSW), an 82 per cent diversion of construction and demolition (C&D) waste, and a 12 per cent reduction in waste entering the AWMC.

Having started at the Albury City Council in 2008, team leader of waste management, Andrea Baldwin, said these figures showed clear improvements in the past decade.

A drive for change came from the AWMC facing imminent closure due to increasing amounts of waste being sent to the centre and the subsequent estimate that the landfill would be full by 2020.

In response to this threat, Baldwin and her team established the goal to halve the amount of waste going the centre. This is expected to be achieved by 2020 with the creation of the HalveWaste education campaign, significant investment in diversion infrastructure and the roll out of a three bin food organics, garden organics (FOGO) system – all of which has been a part of the ten-year plan.

The council also implemented community recycling facilities, the AWARE up-cycle shop, whitegoods and timber drop off points, and a push-pit. As of December 2018, more than 14,400 people had been directly educated within community groups, schools and business. In conjunction with the HalveWaste program, residents of the six participating councils had been engaged with advertising campaigns that promoted waste reduction, which resulted in 74,101 tonnes of organic waste diverted from landfill.

While there had been significant achievements, Baldwin said the program came with challenges in changing community culture. The implementation of the behaviour change program, HalveWaste, helped change people’s views, she said.

The council had also introduced a new fee structure with the landfill fee changing from $30 per tonne in 2009, to a current $156 per tonne. “This has assisted with changing people’s habits.

“[We also] introduced a self-imposed levy to fund education – a $2.50 levy on every tonne of waste. This generates an annual figure of $380,000 to support education in our community.”

This decade-long commitment to shift the way waste is management in Albury City resulted in the council winning a 2018 Inside Waste Award for Regional Outstanding Local Government, sponsored by Suez.

“Winning the 2018 Inside Waste awards is paying tribute to Albury City’s efforts and confirmed [the] council’s objective to reach the goal of halving waste by 2020,” Baldwin said.

With this year’s WARR Awards celebrations just a few months away, Inside Waste is revisiting the achievements of some of the 2018 winners.

Baldwin said the awards recognised innovation and positive outcomes within councils, which could be adopted by other councils wanting to make a change in their waste management.

“Other councils can use these ideas as base cases for initiatives they would like to replicate.

“Submitting an award is not onerous. It makes you rethink the initiative that has been put in place and evaluate it. I think it’s a positive outcome for not only ourselves to receive an award for a fabulous project, but it enables our community to realise that they too have contributed to a positive project and they are part of the success in receiving the award.”

Given the community’s involvement in the project and willingness to change their behaviour towards waste disposal, Baldwin said the community needed to be congratulated as well.

WARR Awards 2019 

Albury City Council was one of several winners of the 2018 Inside Waste Awards that worked to improve the waste sector with various innovations and programs.

This year’s WARR Awards, brought to you by the Waste Management and Resource Recovery Association of Australia (WMRR) and Inside Waste magazine, will again celebrate the achievements of councils and organisations involved in various areas of the waste sector.

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To celebrate with us and find out where to purchase tickets for this year’s WARR Awards click here. To nominate your company, or an organisation, council or business that should be recognised for their achievements in the industry, click here to find out more.

The nine awards categories are:

  • Outstanding WARR Project: Metro and Regional/Rural
  • Operational Excellence
  • Innovation Award
  • Outstanding Facility Award
  • Young Professional of the Year
  • Woman of Waste Award
  • Community Engagement Success of the Year
  • WARR Workplace of the Year
  • Leader of the Year

The WARR Awards and gala dinner will take place at Sydney’s Maritime Museum on November 14, 2019.