We were named the overall winner of the 2021 Sustainable Communities Tidy Towns NSW award at a special ceremony in northern NSW, which is fantastic recognition of our efforts to lead the way in protecting our environment.
Also at the ceremony, AlburyCity won awards for our Renewable Energy Hub at the Albury Waste Management Centre, our organics recovery operations, the education program Halve Waste and resource recovery at the Albury Waste Management Centre (AWMC) plus a highly commended recognition for the Albury Wodonga Repair Café, which helps people to repair and recycle goods that would otherwise be thrown out.
These awards are amazing recognition of our leadership in sustainability and are a testament to the work of our people, partners and allied agencies – but the real momentum for change has come from the community itself.
When we embarked on an ambitious program to halve the amount of waste we send to landfill, important changes had to be introduced, including the introduction of our three-bin system, separating and processing organic waste and reprocessing of many products for recycling purposes.
This change presented some challenges in the introductory phase, but our forward-thinking community embraced the new way of doing things, helping to make our waste management and recycling facilities leaders in the field.
It’s not an achievement linked to Albury alone. The Halve Waste program is an initiative of Albury, Wodonga, Federation, Towong, Greater Hume, Indigo and Alpine councils, meaning every household and business across the wider region is playing its part in making a real difference.
We’re making a significant difference by recycling all sorts of materials, ranging from unwanted furniture to polystyrene, electronic goods and green waste, paper, plastic, cardboard, glass and other items.
We’ve slashed the amount of waste placed into landfill and we’re continuing on that trajectory as we edge closer to our target of halving our landfill content.
But these are just steps on an ever-evolving journey. We’re seizing the momentum that’s got us to this point, with some exciting resource recovery projects still to come.
One of our most promising initiatives is an upcoming pilot project to use maggots and robots in what will be a ground-breaking system to enable greater re-use of packaging that contains food waste.
Put simply, it involves harnessing the powers of nature and technology to keep this packaging out of landfill. Run in partnership with Canberra based company, GoTerra, the system works by using robots to operate machinery that will allow the maggots to consume the food waste, creating clean packaging that can be safely recycled. In turn, the maggots create a protein product that can be used in aquaculture and as animal food, value-adding to a process that improves sustainability and at the same time, generates a viable commercial product.
We’re also working with Sydney company E3Sixty on an Australian-first pilot project to recycle the components of end-of-life solar panels.
Under this plan, glass, aluminium and other components can be recovered for the first time, giving new life to thousands of old solar panels that are now put into landfill. Success in this field will show the way forward for others to follow as solar technology becomes more commonplace.
Construction and demolition waste is another example of a growing opportunity to recycle, which is why it’s exciting to be developing a material recovery facility at the AWMC that will process up to 30,000 tonnes of this waste every year.
Put together, these initiatives are all cementing Albury’s reputation as an innovator in resource recovery.
Of course, none of this could happen without the dedication and hard work of our people, partners and community, which is why it’s so rewarding for AlburyCity to accept the Tidy Town awards on behalf of everyone who’s making this remarkable journey together.
Our success at the Tidy Towns awards means we’re in the running for the national award to be presented in Beechworth next year, while we also won the right to host the next NSW Tidy Towns awards in November this year.
While we continue to build on these exciting achievements, we look forward to continuing our partnership with our community for a cleaner, greener and more sustainable world for future generations.
So, thank you and congratulations to everyone – from householders to major companies – for playing a role in our sustainability success. The Tidy Towns awards belong to all of us.