Despite sending semi-trailers loaded with waste to a landfill in Queensland following the March flood, the Lismore City Council has defended its track record on waste management.
The council’s commercial services business manager Kevin Trustum said ‘we were forced to send some waste collected from the flood to a ti tree bioenergy landfill in Queensland, located at Ipswich’.
‘This was not a traditional landfill but an old coal mine pit that will be capped and the methane converted to electricity to power homes.
‘While this was necessary due to the sheer volume of waste collected during the flood, our normal practice is not to send waste away for landfill.
The admission follows a Four Corners report detailing a culture of illegal dumping, cover ups, mismanagement and dismissal of community concerns.
As a result, NSW Greens Environment spokesperson Dr Mehreen Faruqi has called for a Special Commission of Inquiry into waste following the explosive revelations of corruption, cover-ups, illegal operators and activities and a market failure of the recycling industry.
‘New South Wales can’t just be treating the rest of the country as its dumping ground and exporting waste to Queensland and Victoria to be buried in landfills or stockpiled,’ she said.
‘I think communities would be shocked to find that their recycling efforts which are made in good faith haven’t resulted in much being recycled at all. There are waste operators being paid good money by ratepayers to recycle waste and it appears that this simply isn’t happening.
‘Ultimately, this has blown away any pretence that we can keep producing and consuming waste and hope that we can recycle our way out of it. We need to urgently move up the waste hierarchy and massively reduce the amount of waste being produced.’
Despite the allegations in the Four Corners report, a Lismore city council spokesperson said ‘this is one story where we are not the bad guy’.
Instead of sending waste into Queensland, the council dealt with recyclables from Lismore , Ballina Shire Council, Byron Shire Council, Richmond Valley Council and Tenterfield Shire Council.
Only the contamination in the recyclables was sent to landfill, and that was dealt with by the Lismore landfill.
Mr Trustum said Lismore ‘was committed to recycling waste we generate in our own backyard locally wherever possible, and this was a big motivation for building the $3.65 million Materials Recovery Facility and Glass Processing Plant in 2014’.
‘We recycle all glass by crushing it through the plant back into a sand product, and this is used in road base and pipe bedding,’ he said.
‘We have our own landfill cell, and our organics is an entirely closed loop system.
‘The Materials Recovery Facility is a regional recycling hub, and we now process recyclables for Lismore as well as surrounding councils such as Ballina, Byron, Richmond Valley and Tenterfield.
‘These products, such as plastics and steel, are baled and sold to market.’