Environmental and industry-leading initiatives
Lismore City Council conducted a comprehensive Imagine Lismore community consultation process between 2011 and 2013 in order to find out what kind of future our community wanted for the place they live, work and socialise in.
The community rated the environment as the most important aspect of life in Lismore and it was the community’s vision that Council provide environmental leadership as well as working toward Lismore becoming a model of sustainability. A large part of achieving that vision is the work we do at the Lismore Recycling & Recovery Centre to ensure our community is being responsible for the waste we create in our own backyard.
Some of the major projects that demonstrate our commitment to environmental leadership are:
Since 2007, Lismore City Council has been one of five trial sites Australia wide for a research program entitled the Australian Alternative Cover Assessment Program (AACAP), conducted in collaboration with several Australian universities.
The AACAP program trialled phyto (or plant-based) techniques for capping landfill and the concept of a ‘phytocap’ for modern landfills is now being increasingly considered in the United States and Australia. This involves placing a layer of soil over the landfill and planting it densely with site-specific vegetation, instead of simply covering the landfill with clay, gravel and dirt.
In 2013, we opened the first licensed phytocapping site in NSW on a 1.3-hectare old landfill site at Wyrallah Road. The phytocap has been planted chiefly with koala habitat species and as these grow, a diverse understory is being established.
Phytocaps control the drainage of rainfall into the buried waste. They remove the water from the soil by evapotranspiration, returning it to the atmosphere, and reduce the fugitive emissions of anaerobic landfill gas through diffusion and oxidisation.
Phytocapping is around half the cost of standard landfill capping and will enhance the existing koala habitat at our Wyrallah Road site, which is becoming a haven for local flora and fauna.
Materials Recovery Facility
In May 2014 we opened our Materials Recovery Facility (MRF) to enable recyclables to be processed locally instead of sending them to Queensland. The MRF uses a series of screens to sort materials and we also have a team of workers from the House With No Steps who manually sort recyclables into individual streams so the materials can be baled for sale.
Glass Processing Plant
In May 2014 we also opened a Glass Processing Plant in conjunction with the MRF. The plant uses imploder technology and is one of only two plants of this kind in Australia. The plant crushes glass down to create glass sand that is transported to Council’s Blakebrook Quarry for use in road base and asphalt.
We used glass sand for the first time in June 2015 on a 500m section of road near Numulgi Hall with excellent results. The glass sand will now be used in all road base going forward, and the only issue will be can supply keep up with demand.
The Glass Processing Plant has a broad environmental impact as conventional glass recycling is costly and requires significant technology to separate different coloured glass for re-processing, with a high loss rate due to breakage. When turning glass into sand, we can crush everything together, regardless of the colour or type of glass.
As well as ensuring more glass can be recycled and therefore reducing transport miles, transforming glass back into sand reduces the need to mine as much virgin material for road base and asphalt, decreasing road resealing costs as well as limiting truck movements on the road.|
Resource Recovery Collection Satchels
In 2014 we also became the first council to provide special collection satchels for residents to collect problem waste.
Problem waste includes household batteries, reading glasses, corks, CDs and DVDs, X-rays, mobile phones and accessories, small electronics (such as cameras, iPods, calculators) and printer cartridges.
Resource Recovery Collection Satchels are specially-made bags that residents can fill with problem waste at home and, when full, seal up and place into yellow-lidded recycling bin.
The unique design of the MRF enables staff from the House With No Steps to manually remove the satchels from the recycling stream and the problem waste is then sorted and sent off to be recycled through various programs.
For example, reading glasses are given to the local Lions Club to send to impoverished nations around the world while old X-rays go to the Scouts, who recycle them and raise funds for their activities. Used printer cartridges are sent to Planet Ark to be recycled into plastic products and mobile phones are recycled through the Mobile Muster.
The Resource Recovery Collection Satchels will help us recycle 100 tonnes of these mixed products every year.
Resource Recovery Collection Satchels are free and can be picked up from Revolve Shop at 313 Wyrallah Road, East Lismore, Council’s Corporate Centre at 43 Oliver Avenue, Goonellabah, and from the Lismore Library at 110 Magellan Street. They are also available at selected primary schools.
Plastic Bag Recycling – Bag the Bag
We are one of only two councils in Australia that is currently able to offer kerbside recycling of plastic bags.
A program called Bag the Bag was created and we now encourage everyone to place their plastic bags and soft plastics in a plastic bag. The unique design of our MRF enables staff to manually remove the full bags from the recycling and the plastic can then be processed and baled for sale.
Plastics from our MRF are sold to be remanufactured into other plastic products, keeping them out of landfill. As plastic bags are made from non-renewable resources such as oil and gas, it’s important to re-use them as a precious resource instead of discarding them to harm our environment.
Landfill cell 2 geo-synthetic liner
We are the first Council in NSW to install a geo-synthetic liner as part of the landfill cell 2 construction.
Lismore is a pilot site for the new method, which looks set to become widely used as a best-practice model in the future.
The engineered landfill layer is fabric impregnated with bentonite clay, which has several benefits compared to the thick layer of compacted clay that is traditionally used. This includes eliminating the need to mine virgin clay or transport in clay from outside the region (our floodplain clay is unsuitable for landfill).
The geosynthetic lining also provides around 30cm more space across the face of the landfill, which is around the size of two football fields, so we gain extra landfill capacity.
On top of the geosynthetic we place a plastic liner, sealing the waste to prevent toxins leaching into the environment. We will collect the leachate from the landfill for treatment at the East Lismore Sewage Treatment Plant.