Councils combine to drive local recycling procurement
Photo of Recycled glass sand from iQ Renew’s Virtual Quarry in Wyong NSW

A coalition of NSW local councils have voluntarily set a target to recycle 45 million glass bottles into useful products each year in an effort to stimulate investment in the region’s recycling industry.

United under the Southern Sydney Regional Organisation of Councils (SSROC) association, the 11 councils signed a memorandum of understanding pledging to use their combined purchasing power to procure more products made from recycled materials.

The MoU outlined the framework of actions the coalition would take in the initiative, the first step of which will focus on incorporating more recycled content such as reclaimed asphalt pavement and glass into road-making materials.

Demand for recycled glass in civil works currently sits at around 10,000 tonnes between the 11 councils per year, according to the association. This initiative intends to raise that volume before moving on to investigating applications for a range of other recycled materials, including plastic, tyre crumb and textiles.

The next phase of research will be conducted in collaboration with groups such as engineers, procurement experts, and specification bodies to ensure performance standards are high and the resulting products are safe and cost effective – as was the case when the glass applications were developed.

This is particularly important, according to the association’s general manager, Namoi Dougall, given the councils’ aim to set a positive precedent for regional recycling and inspire others to follow suit.

“Not only will it allow councils to procure safe, affordable, and high-quality materials, but this model can be rolled out across the Sydney metropolitan area and indeed the entire state,” Ms Dougall said.

As the Council of Australian Governments – the country’s peak intergovernmental forum – gears up to ban the export of Australia’s recyclable materials, developing a domestic market for these valuable materials is necessary to avoid their ending up in landfill.

The NSW state government will release a strategy to specifically tackle plastic waste at the end of the year, according to minister for the environment Matt Kean, but a state level program alone will not suffice.

“We need all levels of Government and industry working together and embracing initiatives like this, to tackle waste in NSW,” Mr Kean said.

The 11 signatory councils include Bayside, Burwood, Canada Bay, Canterbury Bankstown, City of Sydney, Georges River, Inner West, Randwick, Sutherland, Waverley, and Woollahra.

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