IN DEPTH

Central West Councils compare waste management systems

Bottom left to right: Bathurst Regional Council Russell Deans, Orange mayor Reg Kidd and councillor Mario Previtera, Dubbo Regional Council Chief Executive Officer Michael McMahon.
Bottom left to right: Bathurst Regional Council Russell Deans, Orange mayor Reg Kidd and councillor Mario Previtera, Dubbo Regional Council Chief Executive Officer Michael McMahon.

RECYCLING may have been introduced in Australia during the 1980s, but integrating recycling into the weekly waste routine in the Central West only started in the 1990s.

While residents in this area may be familiar with the concept of recycling, Australian Community Media wondered whether everyone has really got the hang of it.

Orange City Council manager of corporate and community relations Nick Redmond said residents have embraced the yellow wheelie bin.

"The kerbside recycling service was introduced to Orange residents in 1995 to further encourage diversion of material from landfill. Orange City Council introduced the food and garden waste collection service in 2013," he said.

"Ongoing education programs reinforce to residents the importance of recycling and that by recycling, this resource is diverted from landfill, ensuring increased landfill life and recycling of a valuable resource into new products."

Bathurst Regional Council manager of water and waste, Russell Deans, said while most households recycle well, there is always room for improvement.

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"Customers should consider whether their waste should firstly go in the food and garden waste bin or their recycling bin or, as a last resort, go into the landfill bin. Recycling is important to ensure valuable resources are reused and to minimise the amount of material sent to landfill," he said.

Dubbo Regional Council chief executive officer Michael McMahon is proud of the city's recycling rates, with only seven per cent contamination at the last audit, but said there was always room for improvement.

"Residents are reminded not to place the recycling in plastic bags, but just place items loosely in the bin," he said.

"Dubbo Regional Council diverts an average of 3700 tonnes annually through the kerbside recycling services and in the first year of operation, 5500 tonnes of food and garden organics were also diverted from landfill.

"These figures show how important a local resident is in saving our natural resources [and] not increasing emissions that contribute to climate change through their efforts in recycling."

Mr McMahon also reassured residents that items in the recycling bins were being recycled.

"We would like to reinforce that the recycling is being recycled and not sent to landfill. There are cases that have been reported particularly in Victoria where some recycling businesses have closed down," he said.

In fact, all three councils send their recycling to a Visy plant in Sydney - a privately owned packaging and resource recovery centre.

According to its website, Visy produced 843,000 tonnes of fibre packaging, 545 million steel food cans, 1.7 billion beverage cans and 2.1 plastic containers in 2017/2018. This is across all sites in Australia, New Zealand and Thailand.

Are we getting a six-bin system?

What to do with waste is becoming more important around the Central West and further afield.

As individuals do their bit to help the environment, local governments are cracking down on how to dispose of waste, particularly recyclable items.

Rumours of a six-bin system hit the media last month when Infrastructure Victoria suggested this was the best way to stop contamination across all bins.

The more complicated system is unlikely to come to the Central West region any time soon ... yet.

"An increase in the number of bins is to increase source separation of waste/recyclable products at the household. The proposed Victorian model would look to have separated recycling materials rather than one co-mingled bin," Orange City Council manager of corporate and community relations Nick Redmond said.

Bathurst, Orange and Dubbo councils said such a big change to their waste program wouldn't happen any time soon, but couldn't rule out the possibility.

"Dubbo Regional Council are always looking to improve services and protect the environment," Dubbo Regional Council CEO Michael McMahon said.

"We will continue to implement new initiatives that will reduce the volumes of material that are being landfilled. However, there aren't any plans for six bins in the future.

"We will continue to implement new initiatives that will reduce the volumes of material that are being landfilled. However, there aren't any plans for six bins in the future,"

Dubbo Regional Council CEO Michael McMahon.

Bathurst Regional Council's manager of waste and water, Russell Deans, agreed.

"Whilst it is always possible, there are no plans to increase the number of bins," he said.

Bathurst, Orange and Dubbo all have a three-bin system and have signed a waste collection and processing contract that does not expire until 2026.

In Bathurst and Orange, households are provided with three 240-litre bins, differentiated by the colour of the lid: red, green and yellow.

The "green bin" is for food and garden organics and is collected weekly, the "yellow bin" is for co-mingled recycling and is picked up fortnightly and the "red bin" is for everything else and is also picked up weekly.

Things are slightly different in Dubbo, where residents are supplied with a 140-litre "red bin" for general garbage.

All three local government areas are signed on to the NetWaste program until 2026, meaning changes to the current waste program aren't likely for a while.

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