Sydney's plan for zero household waste

Wednesday, 21 June, 2017

Sydney's plan for zero household waste

A City of Sydney plan to ‘Leave Nothing to Waste’ will introduce new residential waste collection streams to increase recycling and set a path to zero waste. According to Lord Mayor Clover Moore, the plan will redefine waste as a valuable resource, instead of landfill.

New recommended residential services include:

  • weekly kerbside electronic waste collections;
  • an opt-in trial of residential food waste collection;
  • a community drop-off centre for problem waste streams;
  • clothing and textiles collection from apartment buildings.

The strategy includes actions to help businesses choose more sustainable waste management solutions. It also 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 the council, the actions will be implemented from 2019.

“Our residents generate close to 65,000 tonnes of waste every year — and while 69% is now diverted from landfill, this plan looks to increase that to 90% by 2030,” the Lord Mayor said. “To do that, we have to drastically increase our recycling rates.

“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% 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 5% 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 will also continue to work closely with businesses to help improve their waste management practices, noting that businesses generate more than 90% of all waste produced in the city area.

“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,” she said.

The Lord Mayor added that the City will work with the waste industry to investigate the feasibility of a waste to energy facility for items that cannot be recycled. She said, “We’ll talk to industry stakeholders to discuss the best way forward for an energy from waste solution.”

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

Image caption: The City of Sydney held an e-waste drop-off day on Saturday, 3 June.

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