In one of the most significant decisions in the past decade, City of Gold Coast endorsed a network plan for our solid waste management facilities in 2013.
Before this, the solid waste network consisted of 14 community waste and recycling centres and three active landfills, significantly more than almost any other Queensland local government area. These 17 facilities received solid waste from a population of about 530,000.
By comparison, Brisbane City has double the Gold Coast’s population and only four public waste facilities. Ipswich City, with a population of 163,000, has only two waste management facilities.
Operating such a large number of facilities made it impossible to achieve the best outcomes in terms of cost efficiency, environmental practice and the equitable delivery of services to the community. By decreasing the number of facilities, we have been able to better allocate resources to increase our network’s capability.
The network now includes 12 strategically located, modern waste and recycling centres, including two centres located on Stradbroke Island and two landfill sites located in the north and south of the city.
Importantly, over 99 per cent of residents still live within a twenty minute drive to a community waste facility following the closures. This compares favourably with 96 per cent of Logan residents, 82 per cent of Ipswich residents and 74 per cent of Brisbane residents who live within a twenty minute commute to a waste facility.
The three elements of the network plan are:
We now have fewer waste facilities across the city but they are bigger, more efficient, more cost-effective, more environmentally friendly and offer residents improved levels of services, such as reduced queuing times and drop-off points for hazardous and e-waste.
Our city currently buries enough waste in our landfills each year to fill more than 1500 Olympic-sized swimming pools. By significantly reducing this volume through improved recycling and material separation rates, we extend the life of our landfills and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Site restrictions at our smaller facilities limited the number of bins that could be provided for separated recoverable materials and as a result, resource recovery rates were as low as 18 per cent, compared with almost 70 per cent being achieved at the better equipped Molendinar waste and recycling centre. The physical dimensions and/or topography of our smaller sites meant they could not be sufficiently upgraded to overcome their underperformance. Also, the cost to the community of operating the smaller facilities (per tonne of waste received) was more than double that of our large facilities. Phasing out our smaller, underperforming facilities will improve overall resource recovery rates and environmental outcomes and over time, will deliver significant financial benefits to the city.