A TRIP to inspect the latest technology being used in China to generate electricity from rubbish and lessen the amount going to landfill is part of Mornington Peninsula Shire’s bid to attain carbon neutrality by 2020.
Cr Hugh Fraser said moving to a waste-to-energy system could lead to the shire being able to close its Rye tip and avoid a $2 million a year state tax to keep it open.
“The Rye landfill is the shire’s largest contributor to its greenhouse gas and carbon footprint,” Cr Fraser said.
He said the only question remaining was when the tip could be closed, which would also save money on opening costly new “waste cells”.
“Council has resolved to transition to disposal of its kerbside municipal waste to a waste-to-energy facility when economically available,” Cr Fraser said. “The waste market and the access to such technology is moving quickly. A centre of excellence in the disposal of waste is being developed in South Dandenong [which is] readily accessible to the shire.”
He said alternative waste and waste-to-energy technology and plant “is readily available in Europe and now China, but less so on a commercial scale in Victoria”.
Cr Fraser, who left for China last Sunday (2 September) with acting chief operating officer Niall McDonagh and waste services team leader Daniel Hinson, will report back to council within 30 days on “how knowledge gained may influence the future direction of alternate waste technologies in the region and the shire”.
The China trip resulted from an invitation from the Metropolitan Waste and Resource Recovery Group (of which the shire is a member) and Greater Dandenong Council, which is also sending a team.
The $2500 cost of sending Cr Fraser to China for seven days is the first deduction this term from his $16,000 conferences, training and seminars account.
All councillors have access to the same amount, although Cr David Gill – who voted against this week’s China trip – says he will not claim expenses, including travelling.
Like all councillors, Cr Gill is paid a $28,000 a year stipend and is provided with a mobile phone and computer. The stipend for the mayor, Cr Bev Colomb, is $90,000 as well as a car.
Cr Gill said he believed all the information being sought in China “is available through video conferencing or the internet”.
Impetus for the shire to obtain carbon neutrality followed the attendance at the December 2015 United Nations COP21 climate change conference in Paris by the then mayor Cr Graham Pittock and Cr Fraser.
Soon after their return, the shire announced it would close the Rye tip mid-2017, a decision that was overturned in August 2016, with the tip being given a three-year reprieve.
The exact “life” of the Rye tip would depend on the establishment of an alternate waste technology, or AWT, facility.
The shire also said it would join the MWRRG in tendering for an AWT south east of Melbourne “noting the option and opportunity of locating such a facility at council’s Tyabb waste facility [in McKirdys Rd] adjacent to Western Port Highway”.
Background notes provided to councillors stated that it is “very likely” that Melbourne would have just three landfills operating within 15 years, and all west of the city.
When arguing for continued use of the Rye tip Cr David Gibb – who did not seek re-election in 2016 – said prolonging its use would not jeopardise the shire’s bid to be carbon neutral.
He said claims that it was necessary to close Rye to achieve carbon neutrality had been “a fraud on ratepayers”.
Strict controls are being placed on emissions and disposal of ash on the latest incinerators overseas where residual heat is used to either power electricity generators or heat buildings.