Greens’ cutting-edge plan for better waste and recycling management in the Shoalhaven

There’s a fair bit of talk in the community at the moment about green bins. Why don’t we have them in the Shoalhaven? Why don’t we Greens plan to introduce them?

It’s understandable, it’s a complicated issue. So, this week I want to clean up (pun intended) some of the myths and misunderstandings around green bins – and share with you our plan for a new era in waste management and recycling.

Why don’t we have green bins in the Shoalhaven?

I get asked this a lot. The simple answer is that more than 10 years ago, Shoalhaven residents were polled about whether they wanted a green bin system. Given it was going to cost each ratepayer $300 annually to introduce a three-bin system, the answer was a resounding no.

Cost, however, wasn’t the only reason green bins weren’t adopted. Evidence of their environmental benefits is mixed. One carelessly dumped chip packet or garden tool in a green bin can see an entire truckload of green waste diverted to landfill.

Also, most households don’t have enough waste to put their green bins out each fortnight, but council still has to send out a truck for collection, which is costly and contributes to carbon emissions. 

There are better ways of managing green waste, as I’ll explain.

What are we doing about green waste?

With our colleagues on Council, we’ve introduced a range of alternative initiatives to help residents dispose of their green waste sustainably. These include offering training in how to compost at home and a convenient curb-side collection service for a small fee. Residents also get two free vouchers each year for free green waste drop off at Council run waste management centres.

We also encourage people to support local gardening businesses, many of whom offer green waste removal services.

When I’m re-elected Mayor on September 4, one of my highest priorities will be to make sure green waste disposal is free for all residents in the months leading up to bushfire season. 

What’s our plan for the future of waste management and recycling? 

In 2016, Shoalhaven Council faced a big decision. We were running out of space at our West Nowra Waste Management Facility and had to find an alternative that didn’t impose significant extra costs on ratepayers.

After exploring a range of options, we chose to embrace the future. Council unanimously backed an agreement with Polish company, Bioelektra, to build Australia’s first Advanced Waste Technology facility in West Nowra. 

It was a great example of us working collaboratively and constructively with our colleagues across the political spectrum to get a great outcome for the Shoalhaven. 

The facility uses cutting edge technology to sterilise and sort general waste by category so it can be recycled, reused and composted. When operational in 2022, it will divert a whopping 95% of waste – including green waste – from landfill. That’s a much better result than we could achieve through a three-bin system.

You can watch the Advanced Waste Technology Facility in action here. It’s pretty cool!

Why can’t we have both green bins and the new facility?

Because, in order to meet the contractual agreement with Bioelektra, a certain amount of organic matter needs to pass through the facility. We would be unable to reach this amount under a three-bin system.

Reneging on our contract with Bioelektra at this stage and introducing a green bin system would be an enormous and irresponsible waste of ratepayers’ money.

It’s not going to happen, and anyone who tries to tell you it is, is pulling the wool over your eyes.

Kind regards,

Mayor Amanda Findley

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