Why do we need a Waste Management Strategy?

Waste management is an essential service that plays a role in minimising the impacts to our environment, community amenity, and public health. It links directly to the way our community produces and consumes. It concerns everyone.

Waste management is currently facing a series of unprecedented pressures including restrictions on export of household recyclables, constraints around local end markets (buyers of recycled materials), rising community interest in waste management and growing expectations around ‘greener’ outcomes, and limitations in available landfill space. Developing a Waste Strategy provides an opportunity to respond to these pressures, not just through the implementation of major infrastructure or service changes, but by engaging the community in new perspectives on waste that encourage avoidance, sharing, reuse, redesign and recycling.

Through this Strategy we hope to inform the community of how Central Coast Council is currently performing in the area of waste management and landfill diversion, test proposed themes and solutions with the community and seek ideas from community and identify potential gaps.

If there are solutions to divert waste from landfill why aren’t they simply being implemented?

Activities that divert waste from landfill need to be considered from many perspectives, including:

  • Their contribution towards diversion of waste from landfill

  • Local markets to purchase recycled products

  • Ability to meet planning requirements and regulations

  • Likely community acceptance and uptake of methods

  • Carbon emissions performance

  • Cost of implementation

In order to create the best chance of success, initiatives need to be implemented in a timely manner, with consideration given to best practice and learning from existing case studies, rather than doing things quickly. While Central Coast Council is currently undertaking effective waste management processes, continuous improvement is always a high priority.

Does this mean Council is looking into the possibility of residents being able to dispose of food scraps in the green vegetation bin?

Yes, this is one possibility amongst others being considered to try and stop food scraps being sent to landfill. Currently, the existing green bin is for garden material only and Council is contracted to the system as it is at the moment. However, it is possible that food waste could be included in the green bin organics collection, but that will require significant changes to the existing processes (bin servicing arrangements), a higher level of technology to process the waste, identification of end markets, and significant community education. All options regarding organics collections will be considered as part of the development of the Waste Strategy.

If a Food Organics Garden Organics system (FOGO) is implemented does that mean our red waste bins will only be collected every two weeks like the Lake Macquarie Local Government Area?

The intention of the Waste Strategy is to allow a broad range of waste initiatives to be considered. This includes a FOGO system with either a weekly or fortnightly red bin collection. Before any changes are put in place there would be extensive education campaigns so residents are well aware of any changes to their waste processes.

How has Council been impacted by the China Sword Policy and the recent announcement from Malaysia and India that they will no longer receive plastics from 2021?

Council has experienced increased costs for the provision of household recycling service as a result of the China Sword Policy, increased recyclable commodity volumes and cheap imports. This is because the cost to process and recycle products in Australia relative to overseas is generally higher resulting in an increase in the cost of providing household recycling services.

Currently, recoverable mixed plastics are sent to a processing facility in Melbourne, under a new three year recycling contract with IQ RENEW Pty Ltd.

Under the terms of this contract they are required to process the recyclable materials from the Somersby Facility and reuse/sell for ultimate beneficial reuse. Recyclables are not allowed to be landfilled under the contract – only contaminated or waste materials are diverted to local waste management facilities.

Similarly, Cleanaway Pty Ltd deliver waste collection services across the region and under this contract, all recyclables collected from residents’ yellow lid bins must be taken to the Somersby Facility for processing.

Council is committed to continuing the very successful household recycling service, which saw 2,178 tonnes of recyclables processed in March 2019.

Assistance from our National and State Governments is needed in order to help develop a modern, smart, home grown resource recovery and recycling industry, establish more innovative recycling facilities, producing packaging and products that are easier to recycle and reuse.

What about soft plastics?

Central Coast Council does not accept soft plastics through the household yellow-lid recycling bin, though is currently investigating innovative methods and technologies. For example, soon the community may be able to drop off soft plastics free of charge at Council facilities to be baled and recycled by new innovative industries currently evolving in Australia (through roads and outdoor equipment). More information will be communicated on this project in due course.

Does this mean in the future we will be able to place all items with a recycling symbol into our yellow-lid household bins to be processed?

No. Just because something has a recycling symbol does not mean it can go in your recycling bin. Items need to have a market to be bought and sold into and as soon as it becomes cheaper to create new items rather than recycle items, they become less attractive to the industry. As each Council has different acceptable items, it is worth visiting Central Coast Council's website to see what can and cannot be recycled across the Central Coast - https://www.centralcoast.nsw.gov.au/residents/waste-and-recycling/household-waste

Does Council already have any Waste Avoidance Programs available for residents?

While reducing, reusing and recycling waste are fantastic waste behaviours, waste avoidance is always the highest priority when it comes to waste management practices.

Council's Green Living Workshops teach waste avoidance practices as do programs such as Love Food, Hate Waste.

Other waste avoidance programs we offer include:

  • E-waste recycling – residents can drop off up to 15 household e-waste items our Buttonderry and Woy Woy Waste Management Facilities and Kincumber Transfer Facility for free.

  • Battery, light globe and mobile phone recycling - units can be found at Council’s Gosford and Wyong administration centres and library branches for items to be dropped off for free.

  • Mattress recycling - mattresses can be dropped off for $25 each in addition to the Mixed Waste fee (or free through Council kerbside collection) to be shredded for the recovery of metal springs.

  • Scrap metal - can be dropped off to be recycled for free at any of our Waste Management Facilities. This includes aluminium cans and foil, car bodies (not LPG), whitegoods, tin and steel aerosol cans, and car tyres with rims (maximum 5).

  • Chemical CleanOut events - provided in conjunction with the NSW Environmental Protection Authority (EPA), Council hosts two bi-annual events over two locations each year. The next events will be held in the second half of the calendar year and announced shortly.

How has Council spent funds from the Waste Management Facility gate fee? What happens to the Waste Levy funds?

Funds collected through Central Coast Council's Waste Management Facility gate fees are used to both operate and remediate the Facilities as well as pay the NSW waste levy. The Waste Levy is a contribution for each tonne of waste received at the facility (currently $141.20 per tonne), charged by the NSW State Government – a requirement of The Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997 (POEO Act). This levy is collected by Central Coast Council and passed in full to the Environment Protection Authority (EPA).

Central Coast Council paid $57.8m in waste levy funds in the 2016/17 and 2017/18 financial years, but only received $670,000 over the same period to assist with waste management, recycling infrastructure, programs and education. This has gone towards Green Living Workshops, Problem Waste Units for battery, light globe and mobile phone recycling, planning and development of a new Community Recycling Centre, and a Craig Reucassel waste talk, amongst other educational initiatives.

Please visit epa.nsw.gov.au/your-environment/waste/waste-levy for more information.

What is Council currently doing to offset carbon emissions from waste that is sent to landfill?

Landfill gas is a natural consequence of organic (predominately food) waste decomposing. Council is successfully reducing our carbon footprint by generating electricity through the extraction and combustion of landfill gas at our Waste Management Facilities, which created enough renewable energy to power more than 4500 local homes last financial year.

As part of the national Cities Power Partnership Program Cities Power Partnership Program to actively reduce greenhouse gas emissions, Council is also looking to increase the efficiency of the landfill gas capture at its Waste Management Facilities.

Will there be a change to tipping fees?

It is unknown at the moment what effect the Waste Strategy initiatives will have on tipping fees. Any proposed changes to tipping fees will be put on public exhibition and open to comment.

If all initiatives are implemented does this mean our rates will increase?

It is unknown at the moment what effect the Waste Strategy initiatives will have on rates. Any proposed changes to rates will be put on public exhibition and open to comment.

How do I get involved and have my say?

There are a number of ways you can get involved.

This website provides details on pop-up events, bus tours and different opportunities to have your say. This current stage of consultation will close Wednesday 7 June 2019. Community workshops will take place shortly after.

The Draft Waste Strategy will be placed on public exhibition for comment in late 2019 before adoption by Council.