By Jess Baker
With the region’s landfills nearing capacity, now is a critical time for Southern Downs Regional Council (SDRC) to consider its next step in waste management.
According to SDRC’s newly released draft Waste Reduction and Recycling Plan 2021-24, SDRC-operated landfill sites at both Stanthorpe and Yangan are scheduled to close shortly.
The Stanthorpe landfill is expected to close this year, due to the landfill reaching economic capacity, and will be redeveloped into a transfer station with all waste to be transported to Warwick for processing and landfilling.
The Yangan landfill will close in June 2024, due to “the requirements to install a weighbridge in accordance with the State Waste Levy legislation” and will also likely become a transfer station with all waste to be transported to Warwick.
Thus, the Warwick landfill will become the sole landfill for the Southern Downs region. SDRC has plans to develop a new landfill cell at the Warwick site this year – with construction to start on 27 April – which should extend the life of the landfill by an additional five and a half years.
“Landfill disposal capacity for the region is secure until at least 2030-31, however additional landfill cells can be developed at the Warwick landfill,” reads the draft strategy document.
“Critical for Council will be deciding whether it is more economical and environmentally sustainable to continue to develop the Warwick landfill, develop a new landfill for the region or transport waste out of the region to existing landfills.”
According to the draft Waste Plan, planning for a solution must be completed by 2023 to ensure it is effective by 2030-31.
SDRC would like the solution to be in line with the Queensland waste targets detailed in the Queensland Government Waste Management and Resource Recovery Strategy.
These include: a decrease in the amount of waste disposed of to landfill from an overall 35 percent in 2025 to 10 percent in 2050 and an increase in the overall recycling rate from 60 percent in 2025 to 75 percent in 2050.
The draft strategy includes five “strategic themes” that will provide a framework for SDRC to later develop into actionable items for achieving its goals.
The first “theme” SDRC has chosen to focus on is ensuring its operations are always compliant and the environmental risks of its operations are well-managed.
In the draft plan, SDRC has also committed to ensuring its operations are financially sustainable.
“To support financial sustainability of waste operations, this Council is focused on understanding the full cost of service delivery and making decisions that are in the best interest of the community,” reads the draft Waste Plan.
SDRC would also like to review and refine its current waste infrastructure network and aims to deliver a more effective, efficient and compliant waste collection service to residents by expanding the domestic kerbside waste collection area to approximately 1000 additional properties.
SDRC has also pledged to focus on developing local reuse and recycling solutions, which should in turn support job creation in the region and extend the life of the Warwick landfill.
To meet these goals by 2024, SDRC must execute the 55 strategic actions outlined in the Waste Plan – including equalising the waste utility charge for kerbside collection between the region’s northern and southern collection areas, reviewing alternative waste technology, and pursuing promotional opportunities to convey waste management messages.
SDRC has opened public consultation on the Waste Plan until Tuesday 27 April 2021 and the community is encouraged to provide feedback.
It has been proposed by Council that this draft plan will replace the current plan, which was developed and approved in 2018.
Residents can view a copy of the draft Waste Plan on Council’s website and feedback can be submitted by email to email@example.com with the subject: WRRP Submission. Alternatively, submissions can be made in writing addressed to the Chief Executive Officer, Southern Downs Regional Council, PO Box 26, Warwick, Qld, 4370.