Region’s mixed organic waste to be dumped in Queensland

Despite Cr Sally Townley’s passionate pleas for Council to continue trucking its waste to Tamworth, councillors have voted to transport it further to South East Queensland for disposal for the next year. Photo: Coffs Harbour City Council.

 

THE region’s mixed organic waste will be transported to Queensland to be dumped from the end of this month for a period of one year.

The decision was made following around an hour of debate on the issue at Coffs Harbour City Council’s meeting on Thursday 22 July.

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In January 2021, Council took sole control of the mixed waste organic output (MWOO) transport and disposal process for the first time from the Biomass Solutions Facility at Englands Road, and Council worked with local transport firms and Tamworth Council to dump the waste in landfill there.

Council has now voted to reduce its transport and disposal costs of MWOO by 49%, resulting in an annual saving of $1.2 million to an expected annual cost of $1.3 million, by transporting its MWOO to South East Queensland for disposal for a period of one year.

Mixed Waste Organic Output is matter from residents’ red rubbish bins collected fortnightly by Council.

The current Red Bin system produces approximately 11,000 tonnes of MWOO annually.

Cr Sally Townley spoke passionately against the transport of Council’s organic mixed waste to Queensland at the Council meeting.

“When I read this item in the agenda I was actually quite shocked and even horrified that this was even on the table, that we were proposing to enter into a contract to transport our MWOO to Queensland,” Cr Townley expressed.

“There’s so much wrong with this idea that I hardly even know where to begin.

“I don’t know why we would be committing to something like this when we’ve got another option on the table where we’re going into partnership with another public authority (Tamworth Council), we’re actually being a little bit serious about resource recovery, not just driving giant trucks up to Queensland, backing them up to a giant hole in the ground and tipping out this stupid product that we shouldn’t even be making.”

Cr Townley even questioned the legitimacy of Council transporting its waste to Queensland and dumping it there.

“I’ve got real questions about whether we’re proposing something that’s actually contrary to law,” Cr Townley stated.

“There could be COVID, border restrictions, all kinds of things, this is a terrible idea and we should defer and just continue our arrangement until we’ve got something way better.”

Mayor Denise Knight questioned whether the waste trucks would be classed as an ‘essential service’ in the case of border closures between Queensland and NSW.

However, Council staff confirmed that waste transport would be considered an essential service.

“If there was a restriction on freight movements, waste would be one of the last affected,” Council staff stated.

Cr Townley also said Nambucca and Bellingen Councils should be a part of the Council decision on the issue because “it’s their rubbish too”.

“I also believe that since the cost is going to be passed on directly to Nambucca and Bellingen Councils that they should have a seat at the table; it doesn’t seem fair for us to make these decisions,” she stated.

“We don’t have all the information, we don’t have all the players.

“It’s only based on one thing, and that’s money.”

Cr George Cecato said in both situations Council was putting its waste in holes “just in different locations”.

“I would like to see more recycling myself, but I look at this purely from a business sense, we look at putting it in that hole or we look at putting it in this hole,” Cr Cecato said.

Cr Cecato liked that the contract was only for one year.

“This gives us a definite saving of $1.2 million dollars,” Cr Cecato said of the South East Queensland option.

“This will not only save us money, it’s only one year, it will give us plenty of time to get together with our colleagues and come up with a solution.

“I’ll take the saving, thank you.”

Cr Michael Adendorff called on councillors to “focus on the immediate saving” and save the complicated arguments for later.

“It is not the most effective way to go about it, there’s no doubt about it, I don’t think it’s a good long term solution but in the interim I’m spending ratepayers money on a question of morals,” Cr Adendorff said.

“The waste has to be dumped somewhere whether it’s here, whether it’s in Queensland, whether it’s in Tamworth, it has to be dumped somewhere.

“When it comes to a call on whether something is right or wrong, I will make the call on the basis of money.”

Cr Paul Amos said the councillors needed more information on the issue, and questioned whether there was a better option.

“Yes, we might be able to take our rubbish to Queensland now, it might be a $1.2 million dollar saving on a predicament we are in, but maybe there’s a $2 million dollar saving out there to be had,” Cr Amos said.

“I can’t say if there is or not because I’ve been shielded by the information to make a call on this.”

Council resolved five votes to three to accept a tender from Crampo’s Tippers Pty Ltd for waste transport for $55 per tonne, and accept a tender from Veolia Pty Ltd for waste disposal for $58.80 per tonne to South East Queensland for a period of one year from 30 August 2021.

Crs Denise Knight, Michael Adendorff, John Arkan, George Cecato and Keith Rhoades voted for accepting the tenders and Crs Paul Amos, Tegan Swan and Sally Townley voted against.

 

By Emma DARBIN

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