Reducing waste costs and environmental impact
By Pat Pathmanathan, Senior Waste Advisor, Peak Services
Overcoming the evolving challenges of waste management is a constant for local government. Tackling the impacts of the china sword, impending waste export bans and a reduction of commodity prices on recycled content have greatly impacted councils and increased the urgency to implement various strategies to meet resource recovery targets.
The Queensland Waste Management and Resource Recovery Strategy sets out the strategic framework for Queensland to become a zero-waste society, where waste is avoided, reused and recycled to the greatest possible extent.
Councils are expected to respond to this vision by improving waste and recycling collection services and tackling problem wastes, which cost local government millions of dollars every year.
“There are some very real challenges facing regional, rural and remote councils including the management of green waste, tyres, and mattresses. The value gained working across jurisdictions , leveraging greater regional collaboration and partnerships, and how these will play a significant role in managing the costs of delivering council waste management operations cannot be underestimated.” (Robert Ferguson, Lead - Public Health and Waste, LGAQ)
Why does waste management matter?
Since local governments are responsible for collection, transport, treatment and disposal of waste, together with monitoring and regulation of the waste management process, it is critical that you understand your council’s waste management requirements, so that you can optimise your operations and navigate the legislative compliance requirements.
By doing so, you will be able to manage your waste in a cost-effective manner, whilst limiting the environmental impact of your waste service delivery.
Increasing waste management costs and an environmental agenda in government have created incentives for councils to improve their waste management function. From an economic, environmental and political perspective, the cost associated with sub-par waste management activity has never been higher.
Councils’ waste management function may represent the single largest budget item for councils. Combined with the global movement of governments and businesses toward a circular economy model, including significant incentivisation structures to advance waste management, there are substantial benefits in a streamlined function, including:
- Retaining the high value of capital assets under management.
- Limiting significant operational maintenance and rehabilitation costs.
- Optimising and protecting council against high value, long-term contracts (i.e., collections contracts) .
- Efficiently prioritising CAPEX and OPEX programs and projects aligned with strategy.
- Minimising the cost associated with Waste Management Compliance activities, and
- Capitalising on significant grant funding opportunities for ‘shovel ready’ projects.
Council taking the lead on waste management with a hand from Peak
Recently, Longreach Regional Council (council) sought to develop a Waste Management Strategy to improve its waste management practices, by reducing costs and environmental impacts.
Aiming to lead by example, they worked to reduce the quantity of waste sent to landfill and increase resource recovery by educating the wider community.
To do so, council engaged our waste team to prepare its waste management strategy. Our team worked with the Director Infrastructure Services, Manager of Waste, Water and Sewerage and the broader community to devise a practical and workable strategy for council’s consideration.
As a result of this community engagement, the major themes for the strategy included the following:
- Responsible financial management.
- Reducing waste to landfill.
- Protecting human health and environment.
- Community awareness.
- Data management.
These themes then fed into council’s waste strategy development, which addressed council’s future waste management infrastructure needs and developed waste reduction and resourcing action plans.
Following the delivery of the Longreach’s Waste Management Strategy, council reviewed and endorsed it without amendments on 20 August 2020.
“Upon completion and adoption of the Waste Management Strategy, council has been able to enact one of our first initiatives in better managing our waste by engaging with locals to provide green waste chipping. Not only does this support local economic development and is now a great product for the town's parks and gardens, but by diverting this from landfill we also become one step closer to creating a circular economy in a remote community. There are lots more initiatives to be undertaken, this is just the first.” (Neil Stiles, Manager Waste, Water and Sewerage, Longreach Regional Council)
Our highly experienced Waste Management team has more than 30 years’ experience in helping local governments overcome the evolving challenges of waste management service delivery.