Skip to main content

Our Sustainable Waste Strategy

Thank you to everyone who provided input into Our Sustainable Waste Strategy.

The draft Strategy was placed on public exhibition for community feedback from 28 September to 9 November 2022. After public exhibition, all community feedback was reviewed and used to finalise the Strategy. For more information about the engagement outcomes, visit the Have Your Say webpage.

Our Sustainable Waste Strategy was unanimously adopted by Council on 22 November 2022.

The Strategy has been shaped by our community and is all about our:

  • Planet – we value our community, protecting the earth and its finite resources
  • People – we value our workforce to keep them safe, see them grow and create new opportunities
  • Prosperity – we will create enduring value for our community through our operations

The Strategy maps how the City’s Waste Services operations and Summerhill Waste Management Facility will be a regional hub contributing to a circular economy, which will maximise the value of material in our yellow and green bins and decrease what ends up in landfill from our red bins.

The Strategy is a critical component of Newcastle’s 2040 shared community vision to be a liveable, sustainable, inclusive global city. The 2040 vision is our guide to inform policies and actions throughout the City for the next 10+ years, unanimously adopted by Council in April 2022.



The City’s Waste Services operations are:

Essential service for City of Newcastle and the Hunter

  • Over 66,000+ households serviced
  • 7 million collections a year
  • The largest public landfill infrastructure in NSW

Significant economic contributor

  • Waste Services generates a significant amount of the City’s revenue. This is invested back into Newcastle to make it a liveable, sustainable, inclusive global city.
  • Creates local jobs. Currently, Waste Services employs 88 staff. The Organics Processing Facility and Materials Recovery Facility will employ additional staff.
  • The City has the lowest Domestic Waste Management Charge in the Hunter region by optimising its waste and resource recovery infrastructure.

Circular outcomes catalyst

  • Our Sustainable Waste Strategy is a circular enabler and has synergies with other City Strategies and Plans:
    • Economic Development Strategy – calling out Summerhill as a key industrial innovation precinct
    • Environment strategy (in development) – making sure we have sustainable material cycles
    • Climate Action Plan – helping work towards net zero emissions
    • Circular Economy Plan (in development) – which contributes towards localisation of supply chains
  • Creating resilient local markets is a key driver of the strategy to ensure:
    • Economic benefits are retained locally, and
    • Market shocks, such as the China National Sword Policy, are managed.

What our community has told us so far

We have reached out to over 3,300 people through early engagement via surveys, face-to-face events and workshops. 1,200 residents participated in phone surveys. We heard that:

  • 99% support for programs and infrastructure to add value to disposed materials
  • 95% would like our facility to be powered by green energy generated at site
  • 93% agreed we should maximise the life of Summerhill

Our community has told us that they expect the City of Newcastle to act; with significant support for the development of new sustainable waste and recycling programs and infrastructure.

To reduce our impact on the planet, and get more value from limited resources, we need to shift to a circular economy. We must eliminate excess waste going to landfill, instead, circulating more products and materials reclaimed from waste to reduce reliance on virgin natural resources and regenerate our natural environment.

As well as these economic and environmental drivers, both state and federal governments have introduced ambitious targets to limit the amount of waste going to landfill.

Summerhill of Today and Tomorrow:

The Catalyst for a Regional Circular Economy

Summerhill Today

Summerhill Waste Management Centre (Summerhill) is the hidden gem in Newcastle’s crown. Summerhill’s close proximity to the City it serves is unique to Newcastle. While many other cities transport their waste elsewhere, Newcastle continues to take responsibility for the waste we make, creating jobs, balancing costs and minimising environmental impact.

The site is evolving its operations from a predominantly landfill operation towards resource recovery and clean energy generation.  Some of the operations you will find at the site today include:

Solar Farm

With 14,500 solar panels, Summerhill’s 5MW solar farm, built on rehabilitated landfill, creates enough renewable electricity to power 1,770 Newcastle homes. The solar farm proved invaluable for supporting Newcastle’s electricity supply when NSW’s electrical grid was damaged during the 2019/20 bushfires. In the first six months of operation, the solar farm generated more than $420,000 in revenue. The solar farm helped us exceed our renewable energy goals under the Newcastle 2020 Carbon and Water Management Action Plan, which targeted 30 per cent of our electricity needs from low-carbon sources.

Landfill Gas

Landfill gas, which comprises a mixture of carbon dioxide and methane, is generated when material such as food waste, paper and cardboard and vegetation decomposes in the landfill. There is a network of pipes through the landfill, which are constantly drawing this landfill gas into the two generators, where it is turned into renewable energy. The generators collect enough gas each year to supply 3,000 homes with 17,000 MWh of renewable power. These generators power Newcastle homes and have extracted 11,050,000 m3 of gas, abating 107,800 equivalent tonnes of CO2 from entering the atmosphere.


Resource Recovery Centre

The Resource Recovery Centre is a "one-stop shop" for residents and small commercial customers dropping off their waste. It enables Newcastle to recover as many items and materials as possible. In the first year of operations, the RRC recycled 3,100 tonnes, or the weight equivalent of 74 semi-trailers, of waste destined for landfill, whilst generating income of approximately $250,000 for the City. In addition, this initiative has saved over $450,000 in waste levy fees to the NSW EPA by diverting items from landfill.

Sort & Save Service

The Sort & Save service allows Newcastle residents to drop off pre-sorted loads of eligible items at no charge. The items accepted through this service are paper and cardboard, household recyclable containers, scrap metal, e-waste, clean wood and soft plastics.

Community Recycling Centre

The Community Recycling Centre (CRC) accepts household quantities, to a maximum of 20L or 20kg, of household problem wastes.

Community Recycling Stations are also available at a number of Newcastle’s community facilities and can accept limited problem household wastes.

Resource Recovery Area

Residents who have items not accepted through the Sort & Save or CRC services, or who do not wish to pre-sort their loads before arriving at the site, and small commercial customers, drop off their mixed waste loads on our sorting floor to be reused or recycled.

Reprocessing Area

The reprocessing area is set aside for large and bulky recyclable items, such as scrap metal, mattresses, bricks, tiles and concrete, clean wood waste and garden organics.



The purpose of a landfill is to provide a final destination for materials that cannot be reused, recycled or recovered.

Landfilling has historically been the primary activity at Summerhill. There is a putrescible landfill and a non-putrescible landfill. Waste that includes food and organic material, such as kerbside residual waste and mixed commercial waste, is disposed of in the putrescible landfill. Dry waste streams such as construction and demolition waste are disposed of in the non-putrescible landfill.

Although Newcastle is in a unique position to have close to 100 years of landfill capacity, it is important to ensure that sufficient capacity remains on an ongoing basis and that associated infrastructure is available to maximise the life of the landfill.

Summerhill Tomorrow: Delivering Our Sustainable Waste Strategy

Our Sustainable Waste Strategy was developed after listening to the views of Newcastle residents. The community was calling for new and innovative solutions for resource recovery and reducing waste disposed of in landfill. The support from the community has been astounding:

  • 99% support for programs and infrastructure to add value to disposed materials
  • 93% support maximising the working life of the Summerhill Waste Management Centre
  • 84% residents feel personally responsible for reducing the amount of waste sent to landfill

With the world moving towards greener and circular outcomes, now is the time for Newcastle to accelerate our waste and resource management leadership. Once implemented, the Strategy will positively impact the planet, helping reduce emissions, preserve our finite resources and reduce pollution.

With the recycling sector generating 9.2 jobs per 10,000 tonnes of materials processed compared to only 2.8 jobs for the same amount of waste sent to landfill, the Strategy will allow Newcastle to capitalise on Australia’s growing circular economy, expected to be $23 billion by 2025.

Providing regional waste resilience, Our Sustainable Waste Strategy focuses on transforming Summerhill into a pioneering resource recovery hub.

Material Recovery Facility (MRF) – processing our yellow bins locally

To provide certainty of service continuity, and to reduce the ongoing costs associated with transporting our recyclables outside of the region, we plan to construct a MRF at Summerhill Waste Management Centre. 98% of residents surveyed supported this initiative. This facility will sort the recyclables collected in our yellow lid recycling bins into single material streams (paper, cardboard, glass, plastics, steel and aluminium), which will then be sent to domestic manufacturers for processing into new products.

In 2021, we were successful in receiving a grant to $5 million grant for the development of the MRF.

Some of the benefits include:

  • A local facility will significantly reduce associated recyclable transport costs
  • Process 35,000-tonnes of material per year with the ability to grow to 85,000 tonnes
  • Generate significant revenue over the life of the facility

Food Organics and Garden Organics (FOGO) facility – Green Bins

Today, 77% of Newcastle residents have said they would likely separate their food waste if Newcastle had a FOGO facility. So, collecting the waste from our green bins, Newcastle’s new FOGO facility will see organic waste turned into compost.

Once complete, the facility will be able to process up to 50,000 tonnes of Food and Garden Organics (FOGO) per annum. While the city already recovers Garden Organics, there is an opportunity to recover Food Organics from our general waste bin.  This will allow us to: 

  • Divert 24,000 tonnes of Food Organics from landfill
  • Create a saleable compost material that can generate significant revenue over the life of the facility 
  • Reduce our GHG emissions by 24,000 t CO2-e

Southern Access Road

Creating a southern access road for the site is crucial to delivering important economic, social and environmental benefits for not just the Newcastle community but the Hunter region.

Summerhill currently only has one access road, via Minmi Rd, which runs through Wallsend and Fletcher.

A secondary access road connecting the site to Newcastle Link Rd has been proposed which will reduce current and future traffic impacts of Summerhill’s operation. As well as reducing traffic on existing local roads, a new access road will help minimise delays occasionally experienced by customers trying to access the facility.


For all the information about Summerhill and Our Sustainable Waste Strategy, please download Our Strategic Waste Strategy.

Without Summerhill

Without a rejuvenated Summerhill, Newcastle will miss the opportunities that come with a regional resource recovery hub, a resilient local asset that will contribute to the local economy. This means:

  • Material will continue to be transported out of our region, contributing to transport CO2 emissions and we will lose the chance to localise supply chains and encourage local manufacturing. Specifically:
    • Our recyclables will continue to be transported to the Central Coast
    • Our garden organics continue to be transported to the Upper Hunter
  • Ongoing reliance on private sector support for our core kerbside waste and resource recovery needs. In the past this has been a significant problem for the City. In 2020, the City of Newcastle was sending recyclables to the Gateshead facility when it was shut down with little warning. The City had to rapidly arrange another contract with processor on the Central Coast to ensure continuity of the City’s recycling service.
  • There is still no Materials Recovery Facility in the Hunter region to adequately service kerbside recyclables.
  • Newcastle will miss out on the jobs created during construction and the operations of the Organics Facility and Materials Recovery Facility.


     Our Sustainable Waste Strategy

What is Our Sustainable Waste Strategy?
Why has the Strategy been developed?
Does the Strategy have community support?
Did the community have input into the Strategy?
Where can I find the Strategy?
What will the Strategy deliver for Newcastle?
What is the circular economy?
How will the Strategy come to life?
What is Summerhill Waste Management Centre?
What are the key strategic projects at Summerhill Waste Management Centre?

     Organics Processing Facility

What is being proposed at Summerhill Waste Management Centre?
What is Summerhill Waste Management Centre?
What is included in the scope of the proposed organics processing facility?
Why is the proposed organics processing facility needed?
What does organics processing involve?
Summerhill Waste Management Centre already accepts garden waste. Why is a new facility needed?
I'm a local resident, how is this being approved?
How will the facility minimise environmental impact?
I live close by, will I be able to see the new facility, or hear it or smell it?
Who is developing the organics processing facility and how many jobs will be created?
Will my rates increase to pay for the construction of the facility?
Will the compost that is produced by the facility be made available to residents?
When will kerbside collection of food and garden organics commence?
Has an organics processing facility using the same technology been built before?
When will building work take place?
How long will it take to build the organics processing facility?
Will there be more trucks on the roads?
How will this positively impact the community?

     Material Recovery Facility

What is being proposed at Summerhill Waste Management Centre?
What is Summerhill Waste Management Centre?
What is included in the design of the proposed Materials Recovery Facility?
Why is the proposed Materials Recovery Facility needed?
What happens inside a Material Recovery Facility?
How is this project approved?
How will the Material Recovery Facility minimise environmental impact?
I live close by, will I be able to see the Material Recovery Facility, or hear it or smell it?
Who will own the Material Recovery Facility and how many jobs will be created?
Will my rates increase to pay for the construction of the Material Recovery Facility?
When will building work take place?
How long will it take to build the Material Recovery Facility?
Will there be more trucks on the roads?
How will this positively impact the community?