Federation Council investigate organics processing facility

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Federation Council is currently exploring the feasibility of establishing a regional organics processing facility, and potentially a new landfill/recycling facility on a suitable site within the council area. A preliminary feasibility assessment has been conducted by Talis Consultants. Council is now working with Talis Consultants to prepare a detailed feasibility study and business case to explore the viability of advancing this project. This will also provide clearer direction on the type of technology to be adopted, and where to locate the facility.

Council is committed to ensuring the community are involved in the project from the beginning and have a strong voice in the project. Council have engaged local community engagement specialists, Projectura, to assist with the project to facilitate community involvement. Once a suitable site has been selected, the community will be invited to participate in a broad discussion on the project.

To register your interest, or submit any questions or concerns, please use the form below, or contact Council.

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What is an organics processing facility?

An organics processing facility is a centralised plant that collects the garden and food waste from your kerbside green-lidded bin, processes the waste using a composting technology, and redistributes the composted product.

Why do we need an organics processing facility?

Processing organics on a regional level increases our community's ability to recover and conserve resources. It also reduces a large quantity of organics going to landfill or being transported long distances away from our Council area. Other benefits include the local creation of employment and the end-to-end management of our municipal waste.

How do we know we need an organics processing facility?

Federation Council have engaged Talis Consultants to develop a Waste Management Strategy for Council. As part of the strategy development, several options have been explored. Talis Consultants assessed the preliminary feasibility of establishing a council owned and operated organics processing facility to accept, process and treat organic material from surrounding local government areas.

What composting technology options are being considered?

Composting is a biological process through which organic material is broken down by naturally occurring microorganisms in the presence of oxygen. There are two main composting techniques being further assessed for the aerobic breakdown of organic materials: Static aeration composting; and In-vessel aerobic composting.

Static aeration composting

Static aeration composting involves the creation of long, prism-shaped piles, known as windrows, of raw, organic materials. The windrows are aerated using pipes installed under the windrows that are attached to an air blower that provides positive or negative forced aeration. Aeration of the pile is activated by either a temperature/oxygen sensor or timer which requires electricity to power the equipment (blowers, pipes and sensors). A variation of this process is the addition of a textile cover which adds a level of containment to improve controls of environmental conditions.

The composted material is then screened with a trommel to remove any large un-composted materials. The end products generated by the process can include compost/soil conditioner, mulch and blended soil products.

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In-vessel aerobic composting

In-vessel composting systems use containment systems such as rotating horizontal drums, rectangular tunnels, bays or beds within a building, or vertical silo towers to hold organic materials, which facilitates controlled environmental conditions, namely temperature, moisture content and aeration. These types of systems tend to use forced aeration or a mechanism to turn and/or agitate the organic material

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Possible Landfill and other recycling facilities on the site

Council also has been undertaking extensive work in the Waste Strategy to consider all aspects of its Waste Management Disposal side, including Landfills.  Whilst many products from the waste stream are recycled/reused where possible, there nevertheless unfortunately remains the need to still dispose of some items to landfill where safe and acceptable. 

Council currently has active landfills at Oaklands and Urana, in the northern areas of the Council area, along with Howlong and Corowa.  The studies underway and draft strategy, as well as Council experiences of the sites, especially Corowa and Howlong, identity that a new landfill facility should be developed away from these sites. 

It is intended to use this EOI process to also identify if any sites are identified as being able to co-locate other forms of recycling, as well as a landfill.  Interested applicants should not rule out submitting their land for consideration if they only consider some or one of these waste stream elements.  For example, Council would not rule out purchasing multiple sites if nearby, or proceeding with only the organics facility at this time, if not suitable landfill site was identified at this stage through this process.

History and background

Council has previously attempted to advance a regional composting facility in the Howlong area. Prior to Federation Council being created, then Corowa Shire Council and Cleanaway being the regional contractor, were progressing a proposal to develop an 8.45ha organics processing facility, to be located on the eastern side of the existing Howlong landfill site and to the north of an existing wastewater treatment facility.   The Development Application and accompanying Environmental Impact Statement were submitted to Federation Council (created after the merger of Corowa and Urana Shire in May 2016), in November 2016. Significant community opposition to the composting proposal was received, including the lack of prior consultation on the project.  Despite later gaining development consent by the Joint Regional Planning Panel (Western), the lease to Cleanaway to allow construction facility was not granted, in September 2017, when new councillors were elected to Federation Council.  This was due to the extreme community opposition mainly from Howlong residents, to this proposal.

This also followed a previous attempt by Cleanaway to develop the facility in the Greater Hume Shire area, and this approval was overturned in a Land and Environmental Court hearing. 

Many learnings were taken on board from these experiences including:

  • The importance of a social license being obtained for the project - e.g. suitable site selection, including acceptable buffer distances to residential properties.
  • Ensuring the community are sufficiently involved in the project design from the beginning via a robust community consultation engagement plan.

Site selection

At this stage, Council has not identified a suitable site for the facility. Locating a suitable site is an important part of the feasibility study.

Talis Consultants has undertaken an initial site selection analysis, which has identified potential sites for a potential new facility.   However, these sites are privately owned, and Council would need to negotiate the purchase of the land.

Expressions of Interest (EOI)

Council is seeking EOI’s from any landowners willing to enter a voluntarily sale of a suitable site for establishing a regional organics processing facility, and potentially a new landfill/recycling facility on a suitable site within the council area.  

The EOI document provides details of the required site characteristics, as well as an EOI form.

Please review this document, complete and submit to council@federationcouncil.nsw.gov.au by 3pm Friday 23 October to lodge your EOI.