This Wednesday Coffs Harbour hosts Australia’s major annual Waste Conference. The Conference, to be held at Opal Cove Resort, comes as a number of issues coalesce to highlight that waste resource management is rapidly becoming problematic in the Coffs Harbour local government area (LGA).
By The Editor
Mayor Denise Knight is due to deliver an opening speech to the conference at 8.55 a.m. on Wednesday (see conference agenda screenshot below).
Last week in preparation for this, and continuing local waste management related stories, CCO spoke to a number of local waste management operators and the following points were both discovered and separately confirmed;
- It is highly likely that the EPA believes that the smell many have been complaining about recently probably emanates from the landfill at the Englands Road waste management facility. We understand that Council manages and operates the landfill itself separately from HandyBin and Biomass Solutions.
- We have been told that if waste continues to arrive at the landfill at the current rate then the landfill will have reached its maximum in 12 to 18 months time. This is unless the State Government approves raising the landfill walls which is a fairly large task in itself.
- In light of the scenario in the bullet point immediately above Council management is looking at alternatives such as shipping landfill waste to Grafton or even Queensland if the State Government were to agree to such arrangements, particularly the latter.
- We are aware that in a question on notice tabled by Cr Amos four years ago Council management admitted that the remaining life of the landfill at Englands Road was ‘about four years’.
- We understand the NSW Government is in the process of reviewing waste levies. It is possible the levy may remain the same for a few years but if it doesn’t local waste contractors believe any new levy could add $80 a tonne to the handling costs for the three Coffs Coast LGA’s. Note: At 11.20 a.m. on Monday 3 May CCO was informed that Council have been hit with an extra $85 per tonne levy on the MWOOF going to Tamworth by the State Government. We understand that the CHCC may be the only Council in the state this has happened to. Which makes one suspect they are in the State Government’s ‘bad books’ if correct. This new cost works out at between $8k and $10k extra a week on top of the current $70k per week, minimum, trucking costs. So all up that is approximately another half a million a year on top of the current MWOOF trucking costs.
- The original binding decision in favour of Biomass Solutions handed down in August of last year, pertaining to the trucking of MWOOF to Tamworth remains in place and we understand it cannot be appealed. It is estimated that the overallcost to the CHCC currently amounts to approximately $31m until the contract expires in March 2027 as pointed out in earlier CCO stories on this. See; https://coffscoastoutlook.com.au/un-neighbourly-behaviour-the-waste-management-plot-thickens-biomass-v-the-chcc/
- CCO also understands that the CHCC has commenced legal proceedings against the Nambucca and Bellingen Shire Councils in regards to the MWOOF matter and that relations between those two Councils and the CHCC may now be somewhat ‘tense’.
- We understand that Cr Sally Townley has tabled a question on notice pertaining to waste management for the next Council meeting on Thursday 14 May. The agenda for this meeting should be published this coming Friday afternoon (May 7).
CCO – 2.00 p.m. – Monday 3 May 2021: The EPA Press Release about the MWOOF levy increase mentioned above in bold is below. Coffs Harbour is the only one to be given a levy increase. Although the media statement cites Biomass CCO understands that the company is restricted by the CHCC decision two years ago that meant MWOOF ultimately had to be trucked to Tamworth.
Note: We understand the levy could add another half a million dollars a year to the costs of dealing with the Coffs Coast’s MWOOF via a charge straight back to Council.
“Waste levy exemption extended for waste facilities transitioning to organics
03 May 2021
The waste levy exemption on mixed waste organic outputs has been extended for four Alternative Waste Treatment facilities that are transitioning to other sustainable resource recovery methods using organics waste.
Mixed waste organic outputs (also known as MWOO) are the end-product of a practice which aims to separate the organic waste in household red-lid bins from other waste for re-use, rather than sending it to landfill.
The levy exemption extension has been approved for a further 12 months for mixed waste organic outputs produced at the following four licensed waste facilities:
- Suez Kemps Creek facility
- Suez Port Stephens facility at Raymond Terrace
- Veolia facility at Tarago, and
- Eastern Creek Operations facility.
Environment Protection Authority (EPA) CEO Tracy Mackey said the extension will waive the waste levy on mixed waste organic outputs processed at the sites during their transition away from the material and moving to organics recycling, until 1 May 2022.
“A waste levy exemption for mixed waste organic outputs has been in place since October 2018 when the EPA revoked the resource recovery exemption for the application of this material to land, due to risks associated with chemical and physical contaminants, such as glass and plastics,” Ms Mackey said.
“This additional 12-month extension was based on these sites being able to demonstrate that they are transitioning to more sustainable resource recovery outcomes. It is great to see these four operators are adopting new practices.
“To help affected local councils and industry operators adopt more sustainable management measures for their organic waste, following the ban, the NSW Government announced a $24 million alternative waste treatment transition package in March 2020.”
The exemption for the Biomass Solutions facility in Coffs Harbour has not been extended meaning the waste levy will apply to mixed waste organic material processed at the facility.
“Unlike the other facilities that have been approved for the purposes of the MWOO levy exemption, Biomass has not demonstrated sufficient progress or intent to transition to more sustainable resource recovery outcomes, which are necessary to achieving a positive long-term environmental outcome,” Ms Mackey said.
More information about mixed waste organic outputs is available on the EPA website here“
Emphasis added by CCO.