Waste Management

Green Bins – How can it be wrong when it feels so right?

BMCC have voted to introduce Green Waste bins.

In my household all garden and kitchen organics are composted or mulched back into the garden. Net environmental impact is zero and we have a very healthy garden! This is what humans have been doing for thousands of years.

blayney-green-wasteNow, BMCC will be paying for trucks to pound our roads for hundreds of kilometres to pick up and deliver green waste to Blayney where we will then pay for it to be processed by Australian Native Landscapes…. into a low value final product suitable for bulk fill in earthworks. All this creating lots of greenhouse gas at every step along the way.  The process is expensive and the final product has low commercial value. Green Waste will picked up and freighted in trucks owned by JJ Richards and ANL.

jj-richards-truck

ANL-Truck

 

 

 

 

Dozens of trucks each week spewing out fumes and CO2, damaging our roads and contributing to climate change.

All this is costing ratepayers. The green waste by-product in our chosen method is such low value that we actually will be paying about about $2 million a year to have it picked up and processed. The projected estimate per year of green waste is 4000 tonnes. That works out to be $500 a tonne to process.  Yes, a large box trailer full of chipped green waste is costing us $500 to process.

BMCC have kept all the contract details confidential so we can’t know exactly what it is actually costing us. The contracts were awarded for ten years without going to tender or any alternative clever ideas properly considered or trialled on what to do with the green waste.

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The BMCC mindset is firmly in the 1980s (which is when many of the senior staff started working there). Apart from the home composting option, many places in the world are doing smart things with organic waste whilst we languish in the past.

 

Towns like Woking in the UK are generating electricity with it and along with other clever ideas, they have been able to go off the grid. Anaerobic Digestion is the process where all organics (not just garden waste) are converted to methane and compost. The methane is then used for electricity generation. Germany now has over 6000 Anaerobic Digestion facilities….. many of them small scale local units like the one below.

anaerobic-digestion-unit

Nothing smart like this is happening here. No jobs being created in the Mountains, we are just shipping our green waste “out of sight, out of mind” to Blayney to rot out in the open and spew out greenhouse gases.

aerial_transfer_stationKatoomba Rubbish Dump is full and cannot take any more. Upper Mountains’ Rubbish is collected here then gets trucked to Blaxland landfill tip which will also end up full.

At Blaxland tip there was a big stink over Ward 4 with lots of complaints downwind from the facility. To their credit BMCC did introduce landfill methane recovery. This has reduced the stink but the methane is just “flared”….ie burned off into the atmosphere. Methane is a massive greenhouse gas so being burned does reduce it’s impact but we should separating the waste right at the beginning and generating electricity. The small plant at Blaxland is just a drop in the ocean compared with what we should be doing and we should be proactive…not just responding to odour complaints.

Here is a photo of our Mayor looking very proud of his very small contribution to abating greenhouse gas but more importantly reducing  the stink that was drifting over the residents of the ward he was elected in.methane

 

 

 

The Council worker with the Mayor looks like she is praying. Maybe that is the best option to bring BMCC into the 21st century. Years of delays and bureaucratic time wasting has meant the Blue Mountains is mostly in the dark ages when it comes to state of the art waste disposal systems.

rrrBMCC needs to do more to encourage  home waste disposal such as composting. Our Council is not innovative and has done little to encourage the reduction in the sources of the waste like plastic bags and excess packaging in the Mountains. We must reduce …. as well as coming up with smart ways to deal with the waste that is created by all of our bad habits.

Whilst other Councils are putting a lot of work into researching the latest high tech waste disposal techniques, BMCC has put a lot of effort into producing glossy brochures to convince residents that they are doing something. This is yet another example of the bureaucratic malaise at BMCC… They spend massive amounts on administrators compared to other Councils.

We urgently need to minimise the burial of waste as landfill in our valleys. By using high technology we need to maximise the recovery of resources from our waste streams.

We need to extend the current “Yellow Bin” recycling to Commercial Premises.

Finally, we need to get smart about the Residual “Red Bin” waste contents. They should be trucked to an Advanced Waste Treatment plant which incorporates high technologies like the “Dano Drum” to separate the individual components into reusable materials…With the technology available today there is actually only a very small percentage of “Red Bin” garbage that needs to end up in landfill.

BMCC-potential-waste-sorting

The treatment of the “Red Bin” waste could be:

  • Steam treatment in a waste autoclave to remove harmful pollutants and heavy metals which then can be sold back to the original industries that use them
  • Organics sent to high temperature treatment (pyrolysis) or Anaerobic Digestion and composting
  • Extracted metals to existing recycling markets
  • Plastics extracted and used for construction and manufacturing
  • Remaining combustible material is then used as a fuel source and by this stage in the treatment process it is cleaner burning than coal.

I must stress that there are many different options for treating waste at all levels. The Germans are the world leaders in this area and we need to closely look at the systems in place there.

We must take action now before we choke on our own garbage. Trucking waste out of the area is not an option. The “Out of Sight Out of Mind” policy that has been adopted by BMCC for years cannot continue.

 

 

If you would like to leave a comment or suggestion please feel free. You are welcome to use a nickname or alias if you feel uncomfortable  about having your full name published.

14 thoughts on “Waste Management”

  1. katoomba has a tip shop. Author should be lead in environment management at bmcc. Can a public costing study be done. You have to understand politicians… they never do something unless the public first does it for them.

  2. We have taken delivery of 2x beautiful big green bins that we do not want! I have already entered into a contract with my worm farm to dispose of our vegetable matter in their premises. Alas, I am unable to fill these beauties, so I have decided to use them as compost bins. I wonder if the BMCC have thought this plan through using their shared brain cell. But then again – unlikely, but at least they are consistent……..consistently stupid, and blatantly dishonest! Rob you have our 100% support – we like your work!

  3. I thought I had been time-travelling back to the 70’s in the tardis when I delivered my chemical waste to BMCC one saturday afternoon. Considering I was the only car there, the place was staffed by at least a dozen people that I could see directing me here and there with such authority. My 4 paint tins were removed from the boot of my car by two men, while another two stood by to get my postcode and enter it in some electronic devise. The others were milling around looking busy, not to mention the gatekeeper who was ‘in charge’ hiding in his brick office! What is this…..are BMCC trying to keep everyone happy by giving them extra weekend work. This is a big joke at our expense …..welcome to the time warp!

  4. It is a sad state at all levels of government that no one is taking climate change seriously. It is all just politicking, games and show. Good on you Rob.

  5. I agree with Nicola that home compost is the way to go. Mountain soils are so poor that every piece of rotted food that goes back into our garden is environmentally sound – and that includes meat, bone and dairy. Fine wire mesh at the bottom of the bins keeps vermin away. I submitted a strategy to council a few months ago that would halve garbage bin waste immediately, but not a word in reply for or against.

  6. I noticed from the government statistics that BMC spends a big chunk on waste. This definitely needs the latest tecnology and efficiuency.

  7. Green bins are NOT the answer! I actually worked planning compost plants and it is not as easy and as green as it looks like. First the extra green waste has to be trucked and then you need to build a facility for composting the green waste. To avoid smell it usually is completely housed and you need a lot of stainless steel, because everything in contact with the material rots away in no time at all. You have as well machinery running.

    There is virtually no household in the mountains which could not compost their own green waste. The only thing is that the chipping of garden waste has to be MUCH more convenient and frequent as it is now.

    1. Thanks Nicola, It is important to get ideas for and against. At first I liked the green waste collection idea but after research came also to the believe that home composting is the way to go. If we do pick up green waste it must go into smart electricity generating projects.

  8. Agree with the need for green bins for kitchen and garden waste. Every other council has it. It is ridiculous that there is no recycling for businesses, the sooner the better. Soft plastics can now be recycled and turned into childrens play equipment. This would be a great opportunity for the BMCC to be a part of this recycling program, be proactive and be a leader in this area.

    1. The NSW Office of Local Government Statistics say that BMCC spends 27% of it’s entire budget on Waste and Environment. Judging by the weeds everywhere my guess is that most spent on waste. This is why it is so essential to get out of the dark ages on waste disposal and get some technologically advanced treatment systems .

  9. How come council doesn’t have tip shops like Kimbriki in Sydney? They pull everything out of the garbage that can be used. It is great.

    1. Good point Megan,
      That is something that needs to be raised at Council.
      I will try and check out Kimbriki next time I am in Sydney.
      regards Rob

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