Leading the way in waste management design

The Waste Management and Resource Recovery Association of Australia has awarded Toowoomba Regional Council, Queensland, and Shellharbour City Council, New South Wales, the top two facilities in the Australian Landfill and Transfer Station Awards Excellence category.

The national awards recognise excellence and innovation in waste management for councils and privately owned facilities across Australia, applauding sites that are exceptional and encouraging best practice in operations.

Toowoomba Regional Council Water and Waste Committee chair, Councillor Nancy Sommerfield, said, “Council previously has been recognised as one of the most innovative local governments in Australia in waste management and now our work has been further commended for transfer station excellence across the country.”

Greater Toowoomba Waste Management Facility’s $20 million design has been adopted as a template for similar new facilities across the country.

The facility has reduced the number of loads to landfill by 79 percent, with a future target of 90 percent, with significant environmental and cost savings.

Water and Waste portfolio leader, Councillor Bill Cahill, said, “Council built the facility as a blueprint for a regional network of automated facilities, with operations able to be managed from the O’Mara Road facility.

“New technology helps staff monitor and track waste streams at each location and different times of the year. This can identify potential issues, such as the delivery of hot coals in the cooler months.

Cr Cahill said that each element of the network was scalable and integrated with other components to optimise service, increase diversion and balance costs.

There are three types of cameras on site, including CCTV, thermal and licence plate cameras. Digital CCTV provides security with motion sensor and infrared ability and also includes analytics, which help to manage queuing.

“Data from licence plate cameras track where every vehicle goes on site, which was a first in Australia, with information linked to transaction management.”

Shellharbour Mayor, Marianne Saliba, said she was extremely proud that her city’s resource recovery centre was recognised as one of the
country’s top two.

“This state-of-the-art facility leads the way in its scope of acceptable goods for recycling and reduction of waste materials going to landfill.”

Shellharbour’s recovery centre was redeveloped 18 months ago and is a fully integrated waste diversion facility that ties multiple levels of the waste hierarchy (avoid, reduce, reuse, recycle, dispose) into a single customer focused experience.

The redevelopment meant Council increased the number of materials that could be diverted from five products to approximately 30 products.

Some of the highlights of the fully integrated facility include education and hands on repair and creation workshops at the ‘Tinkerage’, repaired goods sales, expanded polystyrene recycling, e-waste recycling, mattresses recycling and Food Organics and Garden Organics (FOGO) reprocessing.

She said Council recognised the need to meet the state waste avoidance and resource recovery targets and decided that a state-of-the-art resource recovery facility would be a key inclusion in the city’s waste management.