Target on plastic as council considers waste strategy

Mayor Ben Shaw, left, speaking at the last council meeting.

BALLOONS, straws and all products packaged in plastic should be banned, Cr Julie Triffett said during debate on a proposal for a local waste strategy at last month’s Derwent Valley Council meeting.

Stung by the community response to recent decisions on waste management issues, councillors have given unanimous support for the setting up of a taskforce to develop a wide-ranging waste strategy for the municipality.

Commending mayor Ben Shaw for bringing the matter forward, Cr Triffett said the council needed to educate its ratepayers on the principles of recycling so it could be done better. She said the council also needed to lobby the state government on container deposit legislation, as well as banning plastic straws and balloons, and all products packaged in plastic. “Let’s have our products back in glass and cardboard,” Cr Triffett said.

Mayor Ben Shaw said Tasmania had waited long enough for the state government to come up with a waste strategy so it was time for the council to act on its own. He said he wanted the strategy to cover at least the following topics:

  1. All aspects of the end of the life of the Peppermint Hill refuse site in New Norfolk;
  2. Investigating a recycling centre and a transfer station;
  3. A container deposit scheme for the municipality;
  4. Kerbside collection of hard waste and green waste; and,
  5. Education  programs and campaigns on recycling, littering and illegal  dumping.

“These are just a few areas that can be included in a long-term strategic document on waste for our region,” Cr Shaw said in written comments supporting his proposal. “Not only do we need to be mindful of our residents and give the best service, we also need to make sure our clean image is upheld for our tourism and our community name.”

“With some previous decisions of council around waste and our refuse site coming under fire and seemingly not having any real strategic approach for basing decisions on, it is time to get a plan in  place that is a guiding document with well-researched data to help when making decisions on our future waste and recycling management for our community,” Cr Shaw said.

In his motion, Cr Shaw proposed that an initial working group should develop a basic memorandum  of understanding, including desired outcomes, time frames, costings and “other finer points with the strategic document” and bring it back to the council for endorsement within two months of the February council meeting.

“So for this next two months I’d like, as the motion says, [to] work out what we want out of the strategy, how we’re going to get it, how we are going to fund it and what are we going to do, and then bring it back in a time frame determined by the councillors,” Cr Shaw said. “So basically this is our starting point to say ‘yes we do want to buy in, we do want to have a waste strategy moving forward’.”

Cr Rachel Power said she had recently seen an excellent model of waste management in New South Wales. “As a tourist I had a compost bin in my hotel room next to my sink, I had a green waste bin that [it] would empty in to, I had a recycling bin and I had another bin that didn’t say rubbish, it said landfill and it literally every time I walked over to that bin it made me think about where things were going. I think it’s time to take a lead and not let somebody else do this for us. I think that we’re in a good position to not only provide value to the ratepayers but also value to council through a well thought out strategic waste management system.”
Cr Paul Belcher supported the mayor’s proposal and said councillors had been waiting two years for costings on a hard-waste collection service. He thought the current problem of illegal dumping would not have happened if hard-waste collection had been costed and introduced. 
Cr Triffett said waste management was an ongoing contentious and expensive issue. “We’re at a brilliant stage now to set up our strategy. So the strategy will hopefully set the direction for this council and maybe for other councils to follow. To be able to environmentally and cost efficiently dispose of all our waste would be brilliant.”
Councillors endorsed the mayor’s proposal without alteration, including that the working group shold initially be comprised of any number of councillors, one council staff member, a representative from the current refuse site contractors and recycling  company, and two members of the Derwent Valley  Tidy Towns Committee.

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