Photo and story Melissa Hargraves
Lismore mayor Jenny Dowell and Lismore MP Thomas George turned the first sod in the construction process for the new $3.65 million Materials Recovery Facility (MRF) and glass processing plant in Lismore last week.
The facility will process and recycle around 15,000 tonnes of recyclables each year, according to Lismore City Council’s waste operations coordinator Kevin Trustum.
‘The recyclables will be sorted into components before being sent away to be recycled,’ Mr Trustum said.
‘The glass processing plant will implode the glass into glass sand which we will send off to our quarry where it will be put into asphalt and road base for our area.’
Mr Trustum acknowledged the funding partners: Australian Packaging Covenant (APC) and the Packaging Stewardship Forum (PSF) for the glass processing plant.
Part of the APC funding is derived from the state government which itself contributed significant additional funding. The majority of the funding comes from Lismore City Council (LCC).
‘It has been great to get support from all those agencies to help our community develop this project,’ Mr Trustum said.
Mayor Dowell said, ‘As long as I have been on council we have been talking about MRF.
‘Our community recycles at a very high rate with relatively low levels of spoilage. It just didn’t feel right that we were paying for someone else to take our materials away when it is a valuable resource that we could benefit from.
‘We now own the shed structure which belonged to Triton, and it is an ideal location for the MRF and the glass crushing facility.
‘There have been previous problems with blending different coloured glass, but we will now be able to combine all coloured glass, including ceramics and kitchenware and use that on probably our most important resource, our roads, on which we spend around a third of our budget.
‘This is a win for our environment, a win for council finances and also for local disability employment. We will be putting out an expression of interest for disability employment groups so we will have a social win as well.
‘This will be a true regional facility as we already have partnerships established with Richmond Valley Council (RVC) and Ballina Council for operations next year,’ Cr Dowell said.
Mr Trustum told Echonetdaily that council has been working towards a MRF for 15 years.
‘It is only in the last four years that we have been pushing quite hard,’ Mr Trustum said.
The current waste facility in Lismore recovers and recycles nearly 70 per cent of material that comes through the gate.
‘Having this facility will enable us to sort the material locally and create jobs. We currently send unbaled materials to the Gold Coast for recycling so there are a lot of truck movements with loose materials on board.
‘We are looking at this as a revenue stream, at the moment it costs us to send the recycling away.’
Resource sharing with other councils will benefit all, according to Mr Trustum.
‘RVC currently send their recycling here and it gets bulked up with ours to go away, so they will hopefully continue to do that. It will cost them a lot less as it will cost us a lot less.
‘We have a memorandum of understanding with Ballina Council to resource share in relation to waste. We have been working with them to shore up supply to our plant.
‘Other councils in the region are looking to us as well. Having those two on board makes it viable, but any more would increase the viability further.’
The closest MRFs to Lismore are at Chinderah and at Grafton.
‘Transport is the killer when you are transporting loose recyclables around,’ said Mr Trustum.
Mr George told Echonetdaily that, ‘LCC has been leading the recycling process in the northern rivers area so this is just the next step for another successful venture.
‘I have not seen one negative point against this one.
‘Everywhere I go, waste is a major concern. Some councils transfer over the border because of costs. Waste from each household is increasing not decreasing.’
Council general manager Gary Murphy told Echonetdaily that, ‘today is a very proud day for our staff. The way it is designed is as a true regional facility – the repayment of the investment will happen in the space of a few years. It means we can put more money back into our waste management and initiatives.’
The Lismore waste facility has six entries in the Local Government NSW Excellence Awards.
‘One of those is our phyto-capping,’ council’s waste and water education office Tim Danaher told Echonetdaily.
‘Once a rubbish cell is complete, we cover it and plant native vegetation on it. What that does is stop the rainwater going back into the cell and prevents leachate.
‘We have a leachate system for our old cells that transfers it to ponds etc, but this phyto-capping system stops the leachate happening in the first place.
‘We are one of the first councils to be able to do that and cap our landfills. Just planting grasses doesn’t do the job as it really doesn’t absorb that water, so I think this system will be picked up state wide.’