Future Directions - Burnie’s waste journey – Gary Neil, Director, Works and Services

Article image - Future Directions - Burnie’s waste journey – Gary Neil, Director, Works and Services Official opening of the waste transfer and resource recovery facility

Over the last 20 years, Burnie has transformed itself from a place that had a reputation as a dirty industrial town into a city that embraces it natural values and promotes innovation.

This transformation has occurred through Council’s investment, strategic planning, community engagement, promoting healthy lifestyles, developing infrastructure to support business and industry and improved environmental management.

Improving the community’s management of waste and promoting opportunities to reduce, reuse and recycle, has also found major support within our community.

We have been on a 10–year journey to change the communities’ waste management behaviour from a landfill mentality to supporting a 50 percent reduction in waste to landfill, an ambitious target.

In the early 2000’s Council recognised that its current landfill would soon be exhausted and there was a need to develop a new one.

At that time over 25,000 tonnes of material was being deposited to landfill each year.

While Council had adequate space on that site to develop additional landfill cells, it was acknowledged that the future management of the landfill needed to change.

In 2006, following development of the next stage of the landfill, Council adopted its first Waste Management Strategy. 

Over the next six years a range of actions and programs were implemented including:

  • development of a tip shop and recovery loop
  • public place recycling opportunities
  • kerbside cardboard collection in commercial areas - source separation
  • direct engagement with industry - encouraging source separation
  • recovery and reuse stockpiles - construction and demolition waste
  • education programs, school visits
  • regional comingled recyclable collection service introduced.

Burnie was able to achieve a waste diversion of 34 percent of the waste stream through these actions and other measures.

While this was a vast improvement, Council still had challenges ahead to meet its aim of 50 percent reduction in waste to landfill.

In 2008 planning for the future management and operation of the Burnie Landfill commenced, as the current cell had a predicted remaining life of two years.

While Council had the ability to progress with further stages of landfill development, this was an opportunity to take a long-term view and identify a range of possible waste management and disposal options.

Following a review of options, an economic assessment was undertaken and it was identified that in the long term, the development of a waste transfer and resource recovery facility with enhanced resource recovery opportunities would be the most viable option.

Council progressed an expression of interest process and ultimately a tender process in 2010, for the design, construction and operation of a waste transfer and resource recovery facility.

This approach was used to encourage innovation in the facility design.

Transpacific Industries Pty Ltd were the successful tenderer and worked closely with Council to integrate the new waste transfer and resource recovery facility with the balance of the site operations retained by Council.

At this time, the community reinforced their drive for progression in environmental management, by including in the community’s strategic plan Making Burnie 2030 an objective to be a region that is energy, water and waste efficient.

This plan provides indicators and goals to track our progression into the future.

Opened in late 2012, the waste transfer and resource recovery facility has been well received by the community.

The Waste Transfer station operates as a “dirty MRF” where waste is deposited on the floor of the facility and materials are recovered.

Recovered materials include metals, cardboard, timber and the like.

The quantity of waste deposited to landfill has decreased, with some 13,000 tonnes of waste now transferred each year and recoverable materials quantities have increased significantly.

Currently 34 percent of the waste stream is recovered.

Based on the early 2000’s quantity of waste to landfill, Council has achieved a significant reduction in waste to landfill.

Opportunities to expand the range of materials recovered across the whole of Council’s waste management activities continue to be explored.

The significant reduction in materials to landfill over our 10-year journey is testament to the hard work of Council staff and the community.