The City of Sydney has released its draft Advanced Waste Treatment Master Plan. The City’s resident consultation process was through in-depth workshops held over three weeks. A Glebe Society member, Koko Clark, took part in the process and was impressed by the research that the proposals are based on.

Koko says that she gained a better understanding of the current approaches to waste management, and the pressures requiring urgent change. For example, although the City has already reached the State Government target of diverting at least 60 percent of domestic waste from landfill, the total amount of waste continues to rise with the rise in residential population. What’s more, commercial and industrial waste, which is the responsibility of businesses, is more than four times the volume of residential waste. At the same time, landfills in the metropolitan area can only handle a small proportion of the waste generated, and waste has to be disposed of further and further from the city, with rapidly rising costs and transport pollution and congestion.

The City’s proposed strategy for advanced waste treatment is a combination of recycling and converting non-recyclable waste into renewable gas through high-temperature gasification. This will reduce greenhouse gas emissions from landfill, supply gas to fuel the planned trigeneration network and contribute to the City’s goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions across the LGA by 70 percent. This could have wider application, with participation by councils and businesses within 250 km of the City’s LGA creating the opportunity to avoid around 4.6 million tonnes of waste going to landfill.

The City hopes to have the first of the proposed waste treatment facilities operating by the end of the decade. It recognises that engaging the community in the selection of a location, and the conditions of its operation, will be one of the most challenging aspects of the strategy.