Where does Moree's waste go?

RUBBISH ISSUE: Moree's waste ends up at the Moree Waste Management Facility, while recycable materials are sent to be processed at Challenge in Narrabri.
RUBBISH ISSUE: Moree's waste ends up at the Moree Waste Management Facility, while recycable materials are sent to be processed at Challenge in Narrabri.

Residents in Moree can rest easy knowing that their rubbish is not being sent over the border and dumped in Queensland like other waste from NSW, as Monday night’s Four Corners investigation revealed.

The investigation found that waste companies are saving millions of dollars by dumping tens of thousands of tonnes of rubbish from NSW to Queensland to avoid paying the NSW landfill levy of $138 per tonne.

However, Moree Plains Shire Council’s water and waste manager David Wolfenden said Moree is not involved in this practice and instead processes its own waste.

“Our residual waste is landfilled at the Moree Waste Management Facility,” he said.

All recycables which are collected at the kerb, as well as cardboard and plastic that is delivered to the waste management facility, are collected by sustainable waste management service Cleanaway, which is contracted by council, and taken to Challenge Disability Service in Narrabri.

Challenge employees then process the recycables by sorting materials and bailing them into their appropriate categories.

Challenge Narrabri’s manager Tony Clare said the bails are then transported to Sydney before being shipped to China – a global recycling hub.

However, the Four Corners report revealed that hundreds of thousands of tonnes of glass is being stockpiled, or in some cases landfilled, across the country due to having such little value.

While Challenge Narrabri, which services Narrabri, Moree and Gwydir shires, is still able to send glass to China, Mr Clare said the Four Corners investigation “doesn’t paint a pretty picture”.

“Because our tonnages are so low compared to city centres, they haven’t knocked us back yet,” he said.

“However commodity prices are low. I’ve been here for 10 years and [glass] has always been an issue.

“It’s a product that’s not very re-sellable.

“I’m hoping this episode will bring some light on the subject and it will start being treated like other commodities. Glass hasn’t risen or dropped in price in the 10 years I’ve been here. It’s really stagnant.”

Mr Clare said Challenge does have to store plastics on occasion in order to break even with freight prices.

“We’re lucky that we have the capacity to store bails for a while until the price goes back up,” he said.

Council encourages residents to recycle correctly

While Moree’s waste and recycling isn’t contributing to the stockpiling of thousands of tonnes of waste in Queensland, council’s water and waste manager, David Wolfenden said a number of Moree residents are still not participating in correct recycling practices which means more waste is ending up in landfill than necessary.

“Considering we have been providing a recycling service to residents for more than two decades, we still have quite a significant contamination rate,” he said.

“Last month’s contamination report identified electrical goods, dead animals, sanitary products and food waste products in the recycling bins.

“We also have a lot of sharps that go through the recycling service and because it goes through a manual recovery service it exposes staff to work health and safety risks, which results in entire loads being deemed  as contaminated and having to be landfilled.”

The contamination rate last month for Moree, Gwydir and Narrabri’s kerbside recycling collection was 25.78 per cent, which is on par with other months.

Mr Wolfenden said council is looking at ways to encourage correct recycling through education programs and issuing warnings such as putting stickers on bins to reduce the amount of waste ending up in landfill.

“We encourage residents to sort material so each waste item that can be recycled is recovered and put through a re-processing or recycling program to save it going to landfill,” he said.

“Council’s main objective is to minimise waste to landfill.”