Sydney’s ‘game changing’ plan to achieve zero household waste

The strategy includes helping businesses choose more sustainable waste management solutions, recommends separate organic waste collection for city buildings and upgrades to city depots to separate and sort waste.

A plan to ‘Leave Nothing to Waste’ in the city of Sydney will introduce residential waste collection streams to increase recycling and set a path to zero waste.

Sydney’s Lord Mayor Clover Moore said the plan would redefine waste as a valuable resource, instead of landfill.

The strategy includes actions to help businesses choose more sustainable waste management solutions, recommends separate organic waste collection for city buildings, an investigation into improved public place recycling and upgrades to city depots to separate and sort waste.

If adopted by council, the actions will be implemented from 2019.

“Not so long ago, residents could throw all their rubbish into one bin, with city rubbish trucks transporting the contents of those bins to one big landfill site,” said Moore.

“Thankfully those days are over and we’re now much closer to a time where not a single item collected by city waste services ends up in landfill.

“Our residents generate close to 65,000 tonnes of waste every year – and while 69 per cent is now diverted from landfill, this plan looks to increase that to 90 per cent by 2030. To do that, we have to drastically increase our recycling rates.

“We’re creating more opportunities for residents to sort their waste, which will lead to higher recycling rates and reduced demand on finite resources.

“Our quarterly e-waste collection days have been incredibly popular, but residents who don’t have access to a car to transport their goods to the site haven’t been able to recycle their old electronics. We’re now proposing a weekly kerbside e-waste collection to recycle valuable metals such as aluminium, copper, gold and silver, while keeping the harmful chemicals used in these devices out of landfill sites.

“Food waste accounts for 35 per cent of the average red bin, which is currently separated at sorting facilities and used to create a low-grade compost. We will offer residents an opt-in food waste collection service that will create a high-quality fertiliser for organic farming and green electricity.

“Changing fashion trends and cheaper clothing have led to a growth in textiles waste – they now account for five per cent of the average red bin. With three quarters of our population living in apartment buildings, we believe there’s an opportunity to collect thousands of tonnes of textiles that can be recycled and used to create new products.

“We’ll begin investigating how we can make textiles collection a common feature of bin rooms across the city’s many apartment buildings.

“We understand that kerbside collections cannot cover all waste items, which is why we’re setting up a dedicated drop-off centre for problem items such as chemicals, paints, batteries and gas bottles.”

The Lord Mayor said the city would also continue to work closely with businesses to help improve their waste management practices.

“Businesses generate more than 90 per cent of all waste produced in the city area and we need their commitment to seriously change the way we deal with waste in Sydney,” said Moore.

“The city has developed the operational waste management guidelines for commercial offices – but there’s always more that can be done and we’re calling on businesses to contact our specialised teams so we can look at how they can improve their recycling rates.”

Moore added that the city would work with the waste industry to investigate the feasibility of an energy from waste facility from items that cannot be recycled.

“We’re absolutely committed to recycling as many waste items as we can, but we realise that’s not possible for all items. That’s why a waste to energy treatment solution in an appropriate location must be considered.

“We’ll talk to industry stakeholders to discuss the best way forward for an energy to waste solution.”

If approved, residents and stakeholders can view and comment on ‘Leave Nothing to Waste’ on from Tuesday 27 June 2017.

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