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Sydney expands residential waste collection

The City of Sydney has unanimously voted to start collecting food waste, textiles and e-waste, in a bid to get to zero waste by 2030.

Lord Mayor Clover Moore said the plan, to be carried out over the next two to three years, will set new standards for residential waste collection across the country.

“Australians are becoming increasingly concerned about where their rubbish ends up, which is why our new waste strategy has been so well received,” Ms Moore said.

She said residents generate close to 65,000 tonnes of waste each year. Although 69 per cent is now diverted from landfills, steps are being taken to increase that to 90 per cent by 2030.

The action plan includes:

  • a trial of residential food waste collection – targeted groups of residents can opt-in to have their food waste collected separately and taken to a facility where it will be converted into high-grade compost or energy
  • clothing and textiles collection from apartment buildings – residents will be able to throw their old clothing in a communal waste bin, which will then be collected and recycled
  • weekly kerbside electronic waste collection – residents will be able to book in a free pick-up each week, with their old electronics taken to a facility where minerals and materials will be collected and reused
  • a community drop-off centre for problem waste streams such as gas bottles, paints and chemicals

The council will also investigate the use of low and/or zero emissions vehicles for waste collection to ensure clean and clear streets.

Residents have taken a particular interest in the food waste stream, which makes up one-third of the average red bin, and can be turned into renewable resources.

Newtown resident Sarah Tasic has taken the matter into their own hands and set up a community compost scheme called Positive Waste, which  collects food scraps from inner city and inner west homes and delivers them to an anaerobic digestion facility where it is converted into green energy.

“There are so many people wanting to do the right thing, and it’s clear that separate food waste collections are going to become increasingly popular,” Ms Tasic said.

The Lowe family from Erskineville signed up to Positive Waste earlier this year.

As their two boys grew, they realised how much food waste they produced. They said it was reassuring to know their food waste is turned into compost or energy “rather than being dumped in a hole somewhere.”

The City will also investigate including soft plastics in the community waste drop-off centre.

Ms Moore said the council will continue to pressure the NSW government to ban the plastic bag.

Businesses on the other hand will have to manage the collection of their waste on their own. The City will provide funding opportunities for innovative technologies and ideas to address problem waste streams not currently managed in a sustainable way.

The introduction of more recycling opportunities also brings job creation.

It has been estimated that for every 10,000 tonnes of waste produced in Australia, 9.2 jobs are created for recycling and 2.8 jobs for landfill disposal.

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