How can we protect our waste management infrastructure?

July 11, 2018

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Urban enchroachment has been identified as one of the barriers to creating a viable and sustainable waste and resource recovery industry.

This month, Waste Management Review spoke to key players in the waste management industry, including Alex Fraser Managing Director Peter Murphy, to further understand how waste management sites can protect themselves from urban encroachment.

Alex Fraser’s Peter Murphy acknowledged it is almost impossible to find suitable sites that are large enough to achieve economies of scale and close enough to where waste is generated. He says inconsistency of planning decisions is a big issue.

“It’s taken years for Alex Fraser to build a network of recycling sites of suitable scale, in locations serviced by major roads, that are close enough to raw and finished product markets.

“In 2016, one of our sites was affected by a rezoning that has the potential to shut down one million tonnes per year of recycling capacity,” Peter says.

“The unfortunate reality is that a lot of effort from hard-working people across government departments, and a suite of very good specifications, plans and policies that would support better outcomes are completely undermined by some planning decisions.”

“Government needs to act fast if it wants to preserve a million tonnes a year of recycling capacity.”

Ultimately, Peter says what’s needed is a clear, consistent and long-term approach to planning that supports the objectives of other important government policies. He says that resource recovery facilities should meet high operating standards and have good access to infrastructure such as roads and water supply.

Peter says the solution is first preserving access to existing, well-located facilities, quarries and landfills.

“More investment is necessary and will happen, but we must first preserve, and do as much as we can, with existing well-run facilities,” he says.

When asked if more zoned land needed to be made available, Peter says it may help, but suitable land is difficult to find.

“Relocating facilities is a complex exercise. Simply rezoning new land does not alleviate the problems caused when zonings on ideal existing sites are changed,” he says.

He says Alex Fraser’s environmental controls are very good and its sites are located well away from residential development corridors.

“Our experience has definitely been that a well-run facility is supported by its neighbours.

“We’ve got more work to do in educating the broader community about the real value of resource recovery and the reuse of quality recycled products in building their cities,” Peter says.

He says Alex Fraser provided detailed input to the SWRRIP and he was pleased to see that some of it was taken on board.

Click here to read the full article including comment from Emmanuel Vivant, SUEZ Australia & New Zealand Executive Director and Stan Krpan, Sustainability Victoria (SV) Chief Executive Officer.