City, environment to benefit from organics recycling plant

20 Dec 2017

Newcastle City Council is poised to build a new organics recycling plant that will save thousands of tonnes of waste and hundreds of thousands of dollars in government levies a year.

A development application is being prepared for the new facility, which will be built at Council's Summerhill Waste Management Centre, with a capacity to recycle 50,000 tonnes of organic waste annually.

The $12.8million Summerhill Organics Recycling Facility will be partly funded by a $1.5million NSW Government grant, announced today by Parliamentary Secretary for the Hunter Scot MacDonald.

Council CEO Jeremy Bath said Newcastle's residential organic waste was currently shredded at Summerhill before being sent to Muswellbrook for processing.

"The opening of this facility in 2020-21 will close the loop on our city's organic waste cycle," he said.

"It will take organic waste produced across the LGA and convert it into soil conditioner, compost and mulch to be reused by the local community.

"This is a win for the city and a win for the environment, and contributes significantly towards Council's sustainable development goals."

In its first year of operation, the facility is expected to recycle about 19,000 tonnes of green-bin waste into 11,000 tonnes of organic product.

Mr Bath said the facility would start to accept food waste after three to four years.

"When running at full capacity, this plant will be processing about 50,000 tonnes of food organics and garden organics every year," he said.

"That will result in 28,000 tonnes annually of soil conditioner, compost and mulch, which Council will either use across its operations or sell back to the community."

Mr Bath emphasised that there would be no immediate change to kerbside waste collection in Newcastle.

"The current three-bin system, comprising a weekly general waste collection and fortnightly green waste and recycling collection - will stay for the time being," he said.

"However, the creation of this new facility means we can start thinking about more effective ways to handle the city's waste and divert more of it away from landfill."

Currently, 30-50 per cent of the material that goes to general residential waste comprises food organics that could be recycled by the new plant.

Mr Bath said the new plant's operation would save Council at least $800,000 a year in NSW Government landfill levies.

"That's a significant sum going back into the local economy every year, rather than into State coffers," he said.

Mr MacDonald said the NSW Government's Organics Infrastructure grants supported new infrastructure to improve waste facilities, increase processing capacity and fund new equipment.

"The NSW Government is working with councils and businesses to tackle organic and food waste at a community level," he said.

"Newcastle City Council has today received the largest grant - $1.5million - of the 15 projects funded in this $5.2million round."

A development application for the new facility is expected to be lodged in the first half of 2018.