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New facility starts processing Tweed’s food and garden waste

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Tweed Shire Council, Media Release, 3 August 2021

The $7 million Tweed Organics Processing Facility will turn organic material, collected in green kerbside bins from across the Tweed, into useful compost.

Up to 25,000 tonnes of food and garden organics can be processed annually on site – with the compost soon to be made available to households, farmers and businesses as well as being used on Council-maintained parks and gardens.

Soilco Operations Manager Michael Emery and Acting Project and Operations Officer Wes Knight inspect the new facility. Photo: Tweed Shire Council

The facility has been constructed on behalf of Council and will be operated by NSW organics recycling business Soilco for the next 10 years.

Mayor of Tweed Shire Chris Cherry said the Tweed Organics Processing Facility was a key step in Council’s long-term ‘zero waste’ commitment.

“This facility is the largest of its type in the Northern Rivers and means we can process our own food and garden organics here in the Tweed,” Cr Cherry said.

“It will help get food out of landfill, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and regenerate soil.

“The introduction of the green organic kerbside bins has further reduced household waste going to landfill by approximately 20% and this modern facility will play a vital role in Council’s Towards Zero Waste Strategy by turning garden and kitchen organics into beautifully rich compost.”

The facility will function as an enclosed composting facility which will also be environmentally sustainable with features such as a 99KW solar power system. Rainwater will be captured for processing operations and all wastewater generated in the processing of organics will be reused in the composting process.

Director Sustainable Communities and Environment Tracey Stinson said there would be further benefits to the environment as organic waste will be processed locally, instead of sending it to a facility in South East Queensland.

“By processing food and organics in the Tweed we’ll also reduce our carbon footprint and logistics costs,” Ms Stinson said.

Soilco Operations Manager Mark Emery explains the organic waste drying process to Tweed Mayor Chris Cherry and Director of Sustainable Communities and Environment Tracey Stinson. Photo: Tweed Shire Council

“Soilco has been really impressed by the quality of the organic waste they’ve processed during trials – which shows what a great job our residents are doing in minimising contamination in their green kerbside bins.

“This is also about reducing the amount of waste going to landfill and educating residents to put all their food and garden organic waste into their weekly green bin collection – so it can be turned into high quality compost to benefit the local environment.”

Soilco General Manager Charlie Emery said there would soon be 170 to 180 tonnes per week of compost available from the facility for the community and to return to local soil.

Council’s latest annual bin audit showed on average, urban residential red bins contained 45% of food and garden items, which could have been placed in the weekly green bin collection.

“Contrary to what people may think, items like food waste going into landfill do not just safely break down back into the earth. Instead, when organic waste is placed in landfill it breaks down without oxygen and produces methane – which is more than 20 times worse than carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas emission,” Ms Stinson said.

“While Tweed does have landfill gas capture systems operating at its landfills to prevent methane being released into the environment, we would prefer to see Tweed’s organic waste turned into compost, rather than rotting inside our landfills.”

The project is supported by the NSW Environmental Trust as part of the NSW EPA’s Waste Less, Recycle More initiative, funded from the waste levy. The initiative provides funding support to councils and other organisations to build facilities to increase the amount of organic waste diverted from landfill in NSW.

For more information on the Tweed Organics Processing Facility, visit yoursaytweed.com.au/tweed-organics-processing-facility.

Local Government Week (2 – 8 August 2021) is designed to showcase the work councils do in their local communities, including the wide variety of services they provide.

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