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Thank you to everyone who provided input into Our Sustainable Waste Strategy.
The draft Strategy was placed on public exhibition for community feedback from 28 September to 9 November 2022. After public exhibition, all community feedback was reviewed and used to finalise the Strategy. For more information about the engagement outcomes, visit the Have Your Say webpage.
Our Sustainable Waste Strategy was unanimously adopted by Council on 22 November 2022.
The Strategy has been shaped by our community and is all about our:
The Strategy maps how the City’s Waste Services operations and Summerhill Waste Management Facility will be a regional hub contributing to a circular economy, which will maximise the value of material in our yellow and green bins and decrease what ends up in landfill from our red bins.
The Strategy is a critical component of Newcastle’s 2040 shared community vision to be a liveable, sustainable, inclusive global city. The 2040 vision is our guide to inform policies and actions throughout the City for the next 10+ years, unanimously adopted by Council in April 2022.
We have reached out to over 3,300 people through early engagement via surveys, face-to-face events and workshops. 1,200 residents participated in phone surveys. We heard that:
Our community has told us that they expect the City of Newcastle to act; with significant support for the development of new sustainable waste and recycling programs and infrastructure.
To reduce our impact on the planet, and get more value from limited resources, we need to shift to a circular economy. We must eliminate excess waste going to landfill, instead, circulating more products and materials reclaimed from waste to reduce reliance on virgin natural resources and regenerate our natural environment.
As well as these economic and environmental drivers, both state and federal governments have introduced ambitious targets to limit the amount of waste going to landfill.
Summerhill Waste Management Centre (Summerhill) is the hidden gem in Newcastle’s crown. Summerhill’s close proximity to the City it serves is unique to Newcastle. While many other cities transport their waste elsewhere, Newcastle continues to take responsibility for the waste we make, creating jobs, balancing costs and minimising environmental impact.
The site is evolving its operations from a predominantly landfill operation towards resource recovery and clean energy generation. Some of the operations you will find at the site today include:
With 14,500 solar panels, Summerhill’s 5MW solar farm, built on rehabilitated landfill, creates enough renewable electricity to power 1,770 Newcastle homes. The solar farm proved invaluable for supporting Newcastle’s electricity supply when NSW’s electrical grid was damaged during the 2019/20 bushfires. In the first six months of operation, the solar farm generated more than $420,000 in revenue. The solar farm helped us exceed our renewable energy goals under the Newcastle 2020 Carbon and Water Management Action Plan, which targeted 30 per cent of our electricity needs from low-carbon sources.
Landfill gas, which comprises a mixture of carbon dioxide and methane, is generated when material such as food waste, paper and cardboard and vegetation decomposes in the landfill. There is a network of pipes through the landfill, which are constantly drawing this landfill gas into the two generators, where it is turned into renewable energy. The generators collect enough gas each year to supply 3,000 homes with 17,000 MWh of renewable power. These generators power Newcastle homes and have extracted 11,050,000 m3 of gas, abating 107,800 equivalent tonnes of CO2 from entering the atmosphere.
The Resource Recovery Centre is a "one-stop shop" for residents and small commercial customers dropping off their waste. It enables Newcastle to recover as many items and materials as possible. In the first year of operations, the RRC recycled 3,100 tonnes, or the weight equivalent of 74 semi-trailers, of waste destined for landfill, whilst generating income of approximately $250,000 for the City. In addition, this initiative has saved over $450,000 in waste levy fees to the NSW EPA by diverting items from landfill.
The Sort & Save service allows Newcastle residents to drop off pre-sorted loads of eligible items at no charge. The items accepted through this service are paper and cardboard, household recyclable containers, scrap metal, e-waste, clean wood and soft plastics.
The Community Recycling Centre (CRC) accepts household quantities, to a maximum of 20L or 20kg, of household problem wastes.
Community Recycling Stations are also available at a number of Newcastle’s community facilities and can accept limited problem household wastes.
Residents who have items not accepted through the Sort & Save or CRC services, or who do not wish to pre-sort their loads before arriving at the site, and small commercial customers, drop off their mixed waste loads on our sorting floor to be reused or recycled.
The reprocessing area is set aside for large and bulky recyclable items, such as scrap metal, mattresses, bricks, tiles and concrete, clean wood waste and garden organics.
The purpose of a landfill is to provide a final destination for materials that cannot be reused, recycled or recovered.
Landfilling has historically been the primary activity at Summerhill. There is a putrescible landfill and a non-putrescible landfill. Waste that includes food and organic material, such as kerbside residual waste and mixed commercial waste, is disposed of in the putrescible landfill. Dry waste streams such as construction and demolition waste are disposed of in the non-putrescible landfill.
Although Newcastle is in a unique position to have close to 100 years of landfill capacity, it is important to ensure that sufficient capacity remains on an ongoing basis and that associated infrastructure is available to maximise the life of the landfill.
Our Sustainable Waste Strategy was developed after listening to the views of Newcastle residents. The community was calling for new and innovative solutions for resource recovery and reducing waste disposed of in landfill. The support from the community has been astounding:
With the world moving towards greener and circular outcomes, now is the time for Newcastle to accelerate our waste and resource management leadership. Once implemented, the Strategy will positively impact the planet, helping reduce emissions, preserve our finite resources and reduce pollution.
With the recycling sector generating 9.2 jobs per 10,000 tonnes of materials processed compared to only 2.8 jobs for the same amount of waste sent to landfill, the Strategy will allow Newcastle to capitalise on Australia’s growing circular economy, expected to be $23 billion by 2025.
Providing regional waste resilience, Our Sustainable Waste Strategy focuses on transforming Summerhill into a pioneering resource recovery hub.
To provide certainty of service continuity, and to reduce the ongoing costs associated with transporting our recyclables outside of the region, we plan to construct a MRF at Summerhill Waste Management Centre. 98% of residents surveyed supported this initiative. This facility will sort the recyclables collected in our yellow lid recycling bins into single material streams (paper, cardboard, glass, plastics, steel and aluminium), which will then be sent to domestic manufacturers for processing into new products.
In 2021, we were successful in receiving a grant to $5 million grant for the development of the MRF.
Some of the benefits include:
Today, 77% of Newcastle residents have said they would likely separate their food waste if Newcastle had a FOGO facility. So, collecting the waste from our green bins, Newcastle’s new FOGO facility will see organic waste turned into compost.
Once complete, the facility will be able to process up to 50,000 tonnes of Food and Garden Organics (FOGO) per annum. While the city already recovers Garden Organics, there is an opportunity to recover Food Organics from our general waste bin. This will allow us to:
Creating a southern access road for the site is crucial to delivering important economic, social and environmental benefits for not just the Newcastle community but the Hunter region.
Summerhill currently only has one access road, via Minmi Rd, which runs through Wallsend and Fletcher.
A secondary access road connecting the site to Newcastle Link Rd has been proposed which will reduce current and future traffic impacts of Summerhill’s operation. As well as reducing traffic on existing local roads, a new access road will help minimise delays occasionally experienced by customers trying to access the facility.
Without a rejuvenated Summerhill, Newcastle will miss the opportunities that come with a regional resource recovery hub, a resilient local asset that will contribute to the local economy. This means:
Our Sustainable Waste Strategy maps how the City’s Summerhill Waste Management Facility will be transformed into a resource recovery hub, which will maximise the value of material in our yellow and green bins and decrease what ends up in landfill from our red bins.
As part of Newcastle’s 2040 vision, which the Council unanimously adopted in April 2022, the Strategy has been developed to implement best-practice waste management systems to ensure Newcastle remains a liveable and sustainable city. This means maximising the value of the material in our yellow and green bins to support Newcastle’s circular economy, while also reducing what ends up in landfill from our red bins.
We are committed to meeting future infrastructure and service needs in line with the NSW Government’s Waste and Sustainable Materials Strategy 2041, which will come into effect in July 2022.
We’ve listened closely to the community’s views on waste and resource recovery. It’s one of the reasons we developed the Strategy.
We learned that residents in Newcastle support more responsible waste management.
The draft Our Sustainable Waste Strategy was placed on public exhibition for community feedback from 28 September to 9 November 2022. The Strategy was unanimously adopted by Council on 22 November 2022.
Read all information about Summerhill and the adopted Our Sustainable Waste Strategy here:
Our Sustainable Waste Strategy Strategic Framework (PDF)
Our Sustainable Waste Strategy Apendix 1: White Paper (PDF)
Our Sustainable Waste Strategy Appendix 2: Delivery Plan (PDF)
The Strategy is designed to deliver benefits to the residents of Newcastle and the surrounding region through three critical focus areas:
Planet – we value our community, protecting the earth and its finite resources
People – we value our workforce to keep them safe, see them grow and create new opportunities
Prosperity – we will create enduring value for our community through our operations
Adopting the Strategy will make Newcastle a leader in sustainable waste management and the circular economy.
The circular economy is a model of sustainable materials management, which extracts more value from materials across more stages of their lifecycle. In the circular economy, the natural resources in our products, which end up as waste, are reclaimed and recycled to be kept in circulation.
When compared to the traditional linear process of intensive take-make-use waste model, this circular process creates more economic opportunities while also reducing reliance on new materials and decreasing the waste impact on the environment.
The Strategy will provide a framework for the next 20 years and a delivery plan which will be reviewed every four years. Most importantly, the Strategy will enable us to develop new facilities at our Summerhill Waste Management Centre (SWMC) and new initiatives to provide best outcomes for the community.
SWMC is a unique waste management facility close to Newcastle. Unlike many other populated areas that ship waste to other regions, often hours and hundreds of kilometres away, SWMC is processing waste and providing value for Newcastle and the wider region. Today, SWMC includes:
For more information about SWMC, please visit: https://newcastle.nsw.gov.au/summerhill
We’re proposing to expand our operations at the Summerhill Waste Management Centre to include:
A Material Recovery Facility, generally referred to as an "MRF", which will process all household recyclables, including glass, plastics, aluminium, paper, cardboard and steel generated by homes, workplaces, development sites and public spaces. These materials can then be used as a resource to manufacture new products, avoiding the need to mine resources.
A Food Organics and Garden Organics or “FOGO” which will process household organic waste, including food scraps, organic garden material, and other compostable items. The processed materials can then be used for commercial composting returning more nutrients from our used organics to farms to create more food, reducing the reliance on new fertilisers.
Develop a new access road to enter SWMC from the south, via Newcastle Link Road, to enhance amenity around Wallsend/Fletcher. Increasing safety for residents and speeding up access to SWMC for both commercial and private waste delivery.
These developments will vastly increase our capacity to process waste better and expand what residents can put into the green and yellow bins. It will also reduce residents’ reliance on the red bin.
For more information on these facilities please visit the Our Sustainable Waste Strategy website for an overview and in-detail documentation.
Summerhill Waste Management Centre is proposing to expand its operations to include an organics processing facility. This will be a fully-contained composting facility, which includes receiving, composting, maturation, and storage areas. The proposed facility will use new technology to process food and garden organic waste into compost that can be used for landscaping, in agriculture and site rehabilitation.
Summerhill Waste Management Centre consists of a landfill and resource recovery facility owned by CN. The Centre is licensed by the NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) and is permitted to receive up to 362,000 tonnes per annum of waste for landfilling. About 23,000 tonnes of organics and 20,000 tonnes of recyclables are also received every year, but these materials are currently transported to other facilities for processing.
CN is in the process of constructing a fully enclosed Organics Processing Facility at the Summerhill Waste Management Centre. This Organics Processing Facility together with the proposed MRF will create a resource recovery hub for the Hunter Region.
The facility design contains the following elements:
The following works also need to be carried out to prepare the site for the Organics Processing Facility:
A summary of the works required to enable the Organics Facility can be found on the information sheet here.
It is proposed that our kerbside collection vehicles will collect food and garden organic waste from households via the green lid bin and deliver it to the facility via the existing site entrance at Summerhill Waste Management Centre.
The waste material would be unloaded within the enclosed facility, where it would undergo ‘pre-treatment’, to remove unsuitable material from the organic waste stream. The organic waste is then transferred to sealed tunnels for 14 days of intensive composting.
From here, the immature compost is transferred to aerated maturation bays for 28 days.
Once the compost has matured it is screened, with large or inorganic particles being separated from smaller ones.
The compost is transferred to passive maturation bays where it undergoes final quality testing before storage / dispatch.
Currently Summerhill Waste Management Centre is only able to sort and shred garden organic material, which is then transported off site for further processing.
The proposed organics processing facility will be able to process food waste as well as garden organics. This significantly increases our ability to reduce the amount of the region’s organic waste that ends up in landfill.
Organics processing helps us extend the life of a landfill site by reducing the amount of material that ends up in the landfill and reduces the amount of greenhouse gases emitted by the landfill.
The State Government has mandated that all local governments introduce collection and processing of food and garden organic waste by 2030, and major commercial generators by 2025.
As of May 2022, we have submitted a development application (DA) for the design and construction of the organics processing facility, following which there will be a public exhibition of the proposal to allow the community to have its say on the proposed design and operations. The proposal will be subject to approval by the Joint Regional Planning Panel.
If the application is successful, construction will begin in 2023, with an expected construction duration of up to 12 months.
The proposed organics processing facility will reduce the amount of the region’s waste that ends up in landfill.
The organics processing facility is being designed to be an entirely enclosed facility that will contain noise and odour. The facility is a single-story building, located within the existing Summerhill Waste Management Centre. The facility is unlikely to be visible from nearby residential streets. An active odour control system ensures that air is continuously drawn from the facility buildings to keep it under a constant state of negative pressure. Air pollution control devices are installed on the exhaust to reduce the odour before it is discharged meeting environmental regulations.
The facility will be owned and operated by City of Newcastle. It is expected that approximately 180 jobs will be generated throughout construction and between 8 and 10 jobs during ongoing operation.
There is currently no proposal to increase rates.
At this stage Council has not made a decision about distribution of the compost from the facility.
The timeframe around the kerbside collection of food organics and garden organics is currently being considered by Council.
The technology proposed has been developed by Waste Treatment Technologies (WTT) based in the Netherlands. WTT have built over 125 facilities across the globe utilising this technology. The WTT technology has been used to develop organics processing facilities in NSW and Victoria.
Construction is expected to commence in 2023.
Once approved, construction is expected to take up to 12 months.
Truck activity is expected to remain the same as it is currently, with the new facility utilising the existing entrance and exit routes to Summerhill Waste Management Centre, off Minmi Road.
The organics processing facility will accept source-separated food and garden organics wastes collected in dedicated kerbside collection bins and process them into compost that meets both Australian standard for composts, soil conditioners and mulches and all relevant NSW EPA regulations.
Conversion of waste into compost is a beneficial waste minimisation technique as it avoids disposal of the food and garden organic wastes to landfill, reducing the impacts that landfills have on the environment.
Communities can achieve major environmental benefits by separating and recycling organic materials. Proper waste management helps improve air and water quality as well as reduces greenhouse gas emissions. It helps in reducing pollution and energy consumption associated with manufacturing new materials.
City of Newcastle is committed to meeting future infrastructure and service needs in line with the NSW Government’s Waste and Sustainable Materials Strategy 2041 which will come into effect in July 2022.
The City of Newcastle (CN) is proposing to expand its operations at the Summerhill Waste Management Centre to include a Material Recovery Facility, generally referred to as a "MRF".
The purpose of a MRF is to sort co-mingled recyclables into separate materials streams such as paper, cardboard, glass, plastics, steel and aluminium. The segregated recyclable streams are baled (except glass which is stored in large bins) and can then be sold to various recyclers for use in the manufacture of new products.
The MRF will receive recyclables from CN household recycling bins, recyclables from other Councils and some recyclables from the commercial sector such as shops and restaurants. The sorted recyclables will be free of contaminants and of high quality so recycling markets can be easily found. The MRF will be able to process up to 85,000 tonnes of recyclables per annum.
The Summerhill Waste Management Centre consists of a landfill and resource recovery facility owned by CN. The Centre is licensed by the NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) and is permitted to receive up to 362,000 tonnes per annum of waste for landfilling. About 23,000 tonnes of organics and 20,000 tonnes of recyclables are also received every year, but these materials are currently transported to other facilities for processing.
CN is in the process of constructing a fully enclosed Organics Processing Facility at the Summerhill Waste Management Centre. The Organics Processing Facility together with the proposed MRF will create a resource recovery hub for the Hunter Region.
Until 2020, recyclables from most Hunter Councils including CN's were processed at a MRF located at Gateshead. This MRF, which was owned by a contractor, closed unexpectedly in 2020. Since the closure of the only MRF in the Hunter Region, recyclables collected from our households have been transported to a processing facility on the Central Coast which is very expensive. A MRF located at the Summerhill Waste Management Centre has the following benefits:
Recycling trucks empty the household recycling bins and then deliver the content to the MRF at the Summerhill Waste Management Centre. The co-mingled recyclables are unloaded inside the enclosed facility onto conveyors. The first step is removing non-recyclable materials (contamination) which must be done by hand.
Conveyors move the co-mingled recyclables through a disk screen where paper and cardboard are separated and glass is removed from the conveyor. Eddy currents split ferrous metals and aluminium. Plastics are sorted using optical separators.
The separated and clean paper, cardboard, aluminium, steel and plastics are baled so they can be efficiently stored. Glass is stored in large bins.
The baled materials or glass bins are temporarily stored on site. When markets are available, they are then loaded onto trucks for transport to recycling facilities where they are used to manufacture new materials.
The sorting process inside a MRF is highly automated.
We intend to submit a development application (DA) supported by an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for planning approval later in 2022. Once the DA is submitted, there will be a public exhibition of the EIS to allow the community to have its say on the proposed design and operations. The proposal will be subject to approval by the Hunter and Central Coast Regional Planning Panel.
If the application is successful, construction will begin during 2023, with an expected completion date later in 2024.
The proposed MRF will form a critical part of CN’s plan to create a Resource Recovery hub which focuses on diverting waste from landfill and contributing to a circular economy. This MRF will increase the capacity for recycling in Newcastle and the broader Hunter region. The MRF will be able to process and recover up to 2 million tonnes of recyclables over 25 years which can be used to make new products.
The MRF will be powered from the solar farm located at the Summerhill Waste Management Centre and solar panels on the roof of the MRF. In addition, the MRF will further reduce greenhouse gas emissions by avoiding lengthy haulage of recyclables to a MRF on the Central Coast.
The MRF operations will be conducted in a fully enclosed building to contain any noise and odour. The recyclables to be sorted and processed in the MRF have a low potential for odour. The MRF will be designed to minimise noise impacts during operation, taking into consideration equipment and plant, vehicle movements and access. The MRF will be of similar height to other buildings at the Summerhill Waste Management Centre and is unlikely to be visible from nearby residences.
The MRF will be owned by CN, however it may be operated by a contractor. It is expected that up to twenty-eight fulltime jobs will be created when the MRF is operational at its capacity.
Construction is expected to commence later in 2023.
Construction is expected to take up to 16 months. It is anticipated that the MRF can be commissioned late in 2024 and will be fully operational by early 2025.
While the MRF will have capacity to process recyclables from other Councils and also from the commercial sector, it is anticipated that for the first few years only recyclables from CN households will sorted in the MRF. During this time, truck activity along Minmi Road is expected to remain largely the same or even reduce as the daily haulage of recyclables to the Central Coast will no longer be required.
Recycling is a key component of waste reduction and leads to many benefits. Recycling reduces the impact that manufactured items have on the environment by diverting materials away from landfill and reducing litter.
The MRF will process all household recyclables including glass, plastics, aluminium, paper, cardboard and steel generated by homes, workplaces, development sites and public spaces. These materials can then be used as a resource to manufacture new products, avoiding the need to mine resources. This helps to improve air and water quality, reduces greenhouse gas emissions and reduces energy consumption.
City of Newcastle is committed to meeting future infrastructure and service needs in line with the NSW Government’s Waste and Sustainable Materials Strategy 2041.
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City of Newcastle acknowledges that we operate on the grounds of the traditional country of the Awabakal and Worimi peoples.
We recognise and respect their cultural heritage, beliefs and continuing relationship with the land, and that they are the proud survivors of more than two hundred years of dispossession.
CN reiterates its commitment to address disadvantages and attain justice for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples of this community.