Statement from Cr Samantha McIntosh, Mayor of Ballarat
City of Ballarat’s interim recycling plan does cost Council more than it was paying contractor SKM to deal with its recyclables.
However, this additional cost for the trial will not be passed on to ratepayers. There will not be any increase in the waste levy paid by residents due to this trial. The important goal of this trial is to keep recyclables out of landfill.
In the short-term, this cost will be absorbed by Council as we continue to explore every available avenue to secure funding from the state government. Council welcomes yesterday’s announcements made by the State and Federal Governments relating to recycling and waste management. We are carefully scrutinising each announcement to see what assistance and support could be provided to Ballarat as we seek to find an innovative and pro-active approach to current recycling and waste issues.
If Council were to continue with the trial in its current configuration, it would cost in the order of $2.5 to $3 million per annum to keep recyclables out of landfill. No decision has been made to adopt this course of action long-term.
Following a resolution of Council on 31 July to make representations to government, Council has been in contact with the Minister and local Members of Parliament to express concern about the current situation and the implications facing the Ballarat community.
While the interim trial is more expensive, it has meant that Council has not sent any recyclables to landfill following the cessation of service by contractor SKM. Data from this trial will inform City of Ballarat’s approach in the future.
The trial is bringing local benefits for the two local businesses involved, and for BRI, a local not-for-profit organisation which supports people with disabilities. To date, 10 jobs have been created during the trial. The companies involved in the trial are actively looking for new markets and uses for recycled product.
The diversion trial is being conducted with the following partners:
Kevin Clark Pty Ltd – Kevin Clarke has been in the recycling and waste industry for over 40 years. He has vast experience in collecting, sorting, selling, diverting and transporting recyclables. Kevin Clark also provides advice on opportunities for new uses for recyclables.
Vic Waste Solutions – Principal Jon Kennedy’s company focuses on providing solution for waste streams. Jon has repurposed his construction and demolition sorting facility to create a mini Material Recovery Facility (MRF). Jon is actively looking for new markets for materials.
BRI (Ballarat Regional Industries) – BRI is receiving the city’s paper and cardboard recyclables, assessing it for suitability for bailing and end market use. BRI employs 150 people with disability; it is Council’s long-time contractor for bin deliveries and repairs and shreds Council’s old mobile garbage bins, providing the end product to the reprocessing market.
Suez, which operates City of Ballarat’s transfer station and has a local paper and cardboard bailing facility, is on standby should further assistance be required.
The trial – The purpose of the trial is to divert as much material as possible from landfill and to make connections with companies that may be able to use the product, including through existing and new networks.
The first week of the trial involves pulling out glass – as well as separating the other products – to get two glass products (a fine product and a chunky product) for a diversity of end uses.
The second week of the trial will focus on plastic streams – pulling the products into as many different streams as possible for a different range of end uses.
This trial is a short-term fix, not a long-term solution. Council will continue to look at all alternatives to maintain a recycling service for Ballarat. We do not want our recyclables going to landfill.
Council continues to be in contact with SKM on a daily basis to secure the best possible outcome for our community.
City of Ballarat anticipated that recycling and waste management would become a major issue for governments several years ago and began work on strategies and associated projects aimed at moving the city toward a greater reliance on recycling, reusing and harnessing new energy through energy recovery. Key elements include an All Waste Interchange, Materials Recovery Facility and Waste to Energy Facility.
However, to date, attempts to secure government funding – including access to the Sustainability Fund – to support these initiatives have been unsuccessful. Council has committed $5 million of its own money toward an All Waste Interchange.
Council has been equally frustrated by a lack of policy in the waste and recycling space to help guide its efforts to take a pro-active approach to waste issues.