Editorial November 5th 2021

Welcome to this week’s editorial, Whilst we are currently witnessing the exposure of the lies and spin of our Federal and State MPs our own local Council has its own spin that often needs to be navigated in order to find the underlying truth. If you read the Council media releases and agendas and even their reports you need to be cognisant of the fact that these are written, and presented, in such a way to ensure they control the narrative. What most folks are not aware of is exactly what ISN’T written and that quite often the truth is to be found in the fine print or unsaid, between the lines. Welcome to the world of Spin. One of my favourite examples of Council spin manifesting itself occurred when Eurobodalla Council first decided to introduce recycling to the shire. There was great fanfare as they launched an awareness campaign that encouraged residents to separate their recyclables and drop them in nice coloured bins located across the Shire. One for paper, One for Glass and One for aluminium cans. The campaign was further promoted in schools to ensure pester-power and families made an outing of it—dutifully taking their recyclables along and feeling pleased with themselves for having done their bit to save the planet. Sadly for Council they were caught out picking up each of the bins and dumping the carefully separated recyclables into the back of a very large truck to be driven to Brou Tip and dumped. The community learnt about this and there was outcry when they realised they had been had and that the effort they made to recycling and separating was worthless. This is where Council spin kicked in. The Council responded by telling the community that the town recycling bins were for educating the public about separating their recyclables and that the exercise had been a great success as was demonstrated when they inspected the bins to check on contaminants. Council then said that recycling proper was soon to begin and thanked the community for their enthusiasm. No apology. A well constructed pork-pie that even Sco-Mo would have been proud of. With the revelations of lies, pork barrelling, half truths, broken promises and the failed representations we are witnessing in the political arena the community is becoming more and more jaded and more and more distrustful. This can be a good thing though as it is forcing the community to proactively engage, not believe all they are spoon fed, and to also read between the lines. Last week was a good example. Last week the Eurobodalla Councillors voted unanimously to award a waste and litter collection contract to a new company for the next seven year with a possible extension of three taking it out to 2032. Tenders were called as is appropriate and the Councillors were briefed on the findings of an independent panel. So far so good. The Councillors and public were advised, via the Council agenda, that “It should be noted that all compliant tenders propose that recycled materials are transported outside of the shire for processing and handling. This means that this part of the service will no longer be undertaken in Moruya.” The above statement, made by staff, tells us, the ratepayer, that all compliant tenders our recycled materials are transported out of the Shire. What the agenda doesn’t say is that there was also a tender by Suez that offered business as usual, delivering an exemplary service as they have done for years, and most importantly NOT transporting recycled materials out of the shire to be sorted and dispatched. Suez runs a sorting facility in Moruya called the Moruya MRF that separates our recyclables. Our Yellow Bins are collected and the MRF does the sorting. Over time we have become more responsible in what we place in our Yellow Bins and the level of contamination has fallen. The Moruya MRF is held in high regard and even managed a highlight in the NSW Waste and Sustainable Materials Strategy to 2041 report.

Above: The councillors, by voting to shut down the MRF, have made a mockery of the celebration of this facility by the NSW Government. Moruya can be well proud of the MRF that employs fifteen workers directly and may more indirectly. As our population increases it stands to reason that the volume of our recyclables will increase as well. Alas our Council has voted to award the contract to a company that will be transporting the unsorted contents of our Yellow Bins to be sorted in Canberra or Sydney. NSW Waste and Sustainable Materials Strategy to 2041 report says that the NSW Government will use its purchasing power ‘to stimulate circular economy innovation and demand for recycled content markets, reducing the environmental impacts of the materials we use by designing for durability and reuse, and by incorporating recycled content. This will also help create jobs in NSW, as recycling generates three times as many jobs as landfill disposal’. ‘Moving to a circular economy will stimulate growth in the resource recovery sector as well as creating new industries and jobs through innovation and investment in circular goods and services. The circular economy represents a growth opportunity

Above: Had the councillors bothered to get off their lazy arses and do some research of their own rather than accept being briefed by staff they might well have discovered that there was more to waste and litter bin collection than just the bottom line of penny pinching to the cheapest quote. Unlike the EU recycling glass is considered unviable in Australia because it is cheaper to import glass products than it is to recycle and recreate them yet around 56 per cent of Australia's glass packaging is recovered for recycling. This rate is considered to be reasonable given the relatively low commodity value of glass per tonne compared to plastic or cardboard, and the difficulty of recovery from mixed waste loads. Our Moruya MRF is commendable. It is innovative, it employs directly and it has unlimited potential to employ and stimulate our economy indirectly. How? To quote Sco-Mo “With unspecified technology breakthroughs” What we have at hand is a wealth of crushed glass and plastics that will, via the new contractor, leave the region. Your Yellow Bin will be dumped out of the back of a garbage truck to be scooped up by a front end loader and dumped into a semi trailer and driven to who knows where (Canberra, Sydney, Whoop Whoop) for sorting. This spells the death of the Moruya MRF, the end of employment for so many and the lost opportunities to be able to value add to our own recyclables. One very obvious opportunity will be the $700 million bypass of Moruya. It is now well recognised that you can use glass powder to replace portland cement, typically at a 10%-30% replacement level by weight. Portland cement production is one of the main sources for CO2 emission. Incorporating waste glass in concrete as a portland cement replacement does more than help the environment by reducing the amount of CO2 emission. It also reduces the amount of waste glass disposed in landfills. Contractor Lendlease Engineering joined forces with the NSW Government and a northern NSW council to trial the use of fine aggregates made from recycled glass in the concrete pavements on the Woolgoolga to Ballina Pacific Highway upgrade. Lendlease received a grant from NSW's Environment Protection Authority (EPA) to use recycled crushed glass as a key component of pavement concrete on a 5 kilometre section of the upgrade south of Ballina. Some 2000 cubic metres of recycled glass concrete pavement was laid over four days, utilising over 220 tonnes of glass - the equivalent of one million bottles. The NSW Government has released new guidelines to boost the use of asphalt containing recycled crushed glass on infrastructure projects across the state. Specifications have been amended to allow up to 10 per cent recycled crushed glass in asphalt base course, up from 2.5 per cent. Using recycled plastic and glass in asphalt to create new road surfaces is just one of the innovative ways councils can reduce its environmental footprint through the use of recyclable material. It is co-funded by the NSW Environment Protection Authority's Waste Less, Recycle More initiative, through the waste levy. The NSW Government has a comprehensive funding program designed to find more ways to make sure waste is taken out of landfill and put to good use . In particular, the Product Improvement Co-investment program and the Circulate program together provide $10 million in funding to help find creative ways to reduce the amount of waste and find better uses than simply throwing it away. Was any of this discussed by our councillors before they agreed to send our recycled materials out of the Shire, to deny our local economy the opportunity to innovate and value add, to employ and to stimulate our own local economy, and to safeguard the existing MRF that is a Golden Child of the NSW government? It is understood that councillors were not fully briefed on the full consequences of the loss of the Moruya MRF, the loss of the potentials to the community of retaining the material resources in the shire to be value added or even advised of the NSW Government 2041 Strategy and initiatives to develop circular economy in regional areas over the next 20 years. It appears that the Councillors have been swayed by the bottom line of the tender to “save money”. And there may well have been a saving to make but is saving a few shekels here and there for the sake of the bottom line enough justification for being blind to existing livelihoods, innovative potentials and a stronger, more resilient community. Be sure to ask a Mayoral candidate for their opinion. Until next lei


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