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Sydney councils urged to improve recycling facilities in unit blocks

However, neither council had been able to enforce their contracts for processing red-lid (residual) bin waste. “As a result, almost all such waste goes straight to landfill,” the report said.

The report found that apartment blocks often had insufficient facilities for the volume of waste generated, waste storage facilities that were not conveniently located and single garbage chutes that didn’t support waste separation.

“Some new multiple unit dwellings do not have waste storage facilities that adequately support residents’ waste sorting because developers have not complied with development approval conditions,” the report said.

“This has occurred because Campbelltown and Fairfield Councils have not included waste collection as an essential service in their local environmental plans.

“Both councils should address this urgently given their growing urban densification.”

The report said that waste generated per person in Campbelltown and Fairfield council areas was lower in the 2017-18 financial year than it was in 2013-14, in line with NSW government targets.

But there was a large gap between each council’s recycling rates and the state target.

The introduction of the state’s container deposit scheme, and less green waste due to widespread drought, had made it harder for councils to meet their recycling targets, the report said.

While Campbelltown Council had a three-bin system, Fairfield Council only provided residents with a two-bin system comprising bins for dry recyclables and residual waste.

“[Fairfield Council] cannot readily move to a three-bin system because this would break its current contract for processing and disposal of residual waste,” the report said.

The report suggested a three-bin system – currently used by Penrith Council – where a food and organics bin was collected weekly, and dry recyclables and residual waste were collected fortnightly.

“The system may be worth considering by both councils when they prepare their next waste processing contracts, partly because the Environment Protection Agency recently limited how organic material produced from red-lid bin waste can be used,” the report said.

Australia is in the grip of a waste crisis after China signalled a crackdown on the offshore processing of waste through its “National Sword” policy in January 2018.

The report recommended the councils ensure all new buildings had adequate and appropriate waste sorting facilities to make it easy for residents to sort their waste properly.

They should also monitor and evaluate the effectiveness of their activities in improving residents’ waste sorting habits, and investigate the costs of alternatives for waste collection, processing and disposal.

Megan Gorrey is the Urban Affairs reporter at the Sydney Morning Herald.

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