Sustainability at Council

Tamworth Regional Council is committed to environmental sustainability and sustainable development. Specifically, Council recognise the need to protect and enhance our natural and built environments if we want a healthy, connected and sustainable future.

In 2015, Tamworth Regional Council established a dedicated Sustainability Unit. The team of four staff provide specialist advice on sustainable water, waste and energy practices. The Sustainability Unit is committed to strengthening Council’s corporate sustainability performance, engaging the local community and facilitating sustainable development for our Region.

The Sustainability Strategy 2017-2021 (PDF 1.1MB)  is Tamworth Regional Council’s roadmap for advancing sustainability in our Region.

The Sustainability Strategy has four key themes: energy, waste, water and carbon emissions. For each theme, goals and actions have been identified. The actions will be developed into projects and will help create a more sustainable Tamworth Region. The strategy also highlights Council’s corporate sustainability targets and commitments, ensuring Council is a leader in renewable energy and sustainable practices.

Council is committed to being a leader is sustainable water use, contributing to a waterwise region for our future.

Sustainability achievements

General

Year Project Completed Benefit 
2017           Developed Sustainability Strategy and action plans  2018                         

Long terms goals and aspirations developed and given a program to guide and support delivering on them.

Councils Sustainability Strategy was one of the first in NSW Local Government to acknowledge the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)and identify the SDGs that support, and are supported by, the TRC Sustainability Strategy
Ongoing             Support and participate in the following events, promotions and initiatives:
  • National recycling week
  • National water week
  • Garage Sale Trail
  • Clean up Australia Day
  • The Amazing Enviro Race
  • Tamworth Country Music Festival

o   Tune in to Recycling

o   Water Conservation

  • “Don’t be a tosser”
  • RID online “report illegal dumping”
  • Nobody smokes here – provide infrastructure and support educational messages
  • Regional Waste Warriors Expo
  • Northern Inland Regional Waste                                                                                                                                                                                      
   Community awareness and engagement

Waste

Year Project Completed Benefit 
2018

Duri Small Vehicle Transfer Station development & Landfill Capping

Supported in conjunction with Council by the NSW Environmental Trust as part of the NSW Environment Protection Authority's Waste Less, Recycle More initiative, funded from the waste levy.

July 2020

Closure of landfill activities and development of the Small Vehicle Transfer Station will provide the following operational and environmental benefits:

  • Improve safety for both staff and community site users;
  • Reduce environmental impacts, such as windblown litter, biosecurity risk and leachate generation;
  • Improve resource recovery and recycling opportunities; and
  • Improve visual aesthetics.
2018

Somerton Small Vehicle Transfer Station development & Landfill Capping

Supported in conjunction with Council by the NSW Environmental Trust as part of the NSW Environment Protection Authority's Waste Less, Recycle More initiative funded from the waste levy.

June 2020

Closure of landfill activities and development of the Small Vehicle Transfer Station will provide the following operational and environmental benefits:

  • Improve safety for both staff and community site users;
  • Reduce environmental impacts, such as windblown litter, biosecurity risk and leachate generation;
  • Improve resource recovery and recycling opportunities; and
  • Improve visual aesthetics.
2017           Landfill Gas Capture May 2017

Currently flaring the gas to convert from Methane to CO2, this is a 30x less harmful greenhouse gas than methane.

Contract awarded to utilise the gas for energy production converting 100% of the gas captured to energy to be fed to the power grid.

Power generated will be the equivalent of approximately 1000 homes.
  Organics Recycling Facility (FOGO) Approval pending 15,000 tonnes of organic waste diverted from landfills per annum

Extending the life of the regions landfills by 5 years

Food and garden organic waste processed into high quality compost
November 2019 Introduction of Mattress Recycling Ongoing

63.2 Tonnes collected and recycled since Nov 2019 – this includes lounges listed below.

Divert problem waste from landfill – mattresses are incredibly hard to manage in a landfill, take up a lot of space

Must be deconstructed and materials recovered individually to be recycled
November 2019 Lounges - fabric and textile recovery   Reduce waste to landfill, recover and reuse materials
November 2015 Community Recycling Centre Ongoing Total Tonnage = 133t
The CRC allows residents to dispose of common problem, and potentially hazardous, wastes that should not be sent to landfill.  Waste delivered to the CRC is collected by a contractor who takes the materials for potential recovery of recyclable materials, and treatment and disposal in a way that causes no harm.
2017/18 NSW EPA Litter Grant – install litter bins at high usage rest stops at town entrances  

Reduce litter in typically high volume areas

Improve appearance of the regions town entrances

Signage and education campaign incorporated into the grant delivery
2017/18 Public Place Recycling Trial and Audits Audit program completed October 2019
  • Recyclable material diverted from landfill
  • Public place recycling available in Peel Street
  • Program to expand to other main streets and high use public areas is being developed
  • Audit identified opportunities for education
2018 School Recycling Program 2018
  • Recyclable material diverted from landfill
  • More of the regions schools able access recycling infrastructure and servicing
  • Increase Challenge Recycling business
2018 Waste Voucher Trial Trial completed 2019 - vouchers extended to commencement of the new waste contract

Bulky waste delivered to landfill instead of kerbside collection

Kerbside – compacted and landfilled regardless of material or usefulness

At the Landfill – materials can be sorted and recovered where possible – metal, timber etc or items suitable for Waste No More.

Reduction in waste to landfill 
2018/19 "Lets Talk Rubbish" campaign Ongoing Broad reaching community engagement and education campaign to get the right items in the right bin
Waste services guide booklet, TV, radio, garbage truck wraps, social media, community engagement.
2017 Container Deposit Scheme Ongoing

Litter reduction

Materials collected via the scheme are 100% recycled reducing waste to landfill

Supported the implementation of the CDS

Created educational messaging and community engagement around participation and the benefits of the scheme

Refund sharing agreement with Challenge recycling-strengthening community relationships, resilience and employment through social enterprise

2019 Waste No More - Buy Back Centre Ongoing

Reduce waste to landfill by increasing potential for reuse and repurpose

Challenge partnership funded by Container Deposit Scheme refund

In coming months will incorporate workshops for upcycling, repairing instead of disposing etc.
September 2019 Grant funding to install gross pollutant litter trap Ongoing

70KGs of litter captured and disposed of since September 2019

Litter collection traps in storm water drains preventing litter from proceeding through waterways

Created “rubbish in the drains” education and awareness campaign

Sharps infrastructure and servicing in Council owned spaces Ongoing Identify “hot spots” for sharps disposal and ensure collection and disposal infrastructure is adequate, review locations and amend if required.
Ongoing community education and support for other services operating in the sharps space e.g. Health and Community Services groups.

 

Water

Year Project Completed Benefit 
2020 Water Sensitive Design Controls
October 2020

Council Water Sensitive Design Controls will assist the community to achieve a long term sustainable reduction in reliance on potable water and increase the reuse of grey water throughout the region. 

The Water Saving Rebate Scheme supports the implementation of the Water Sensitive Design Controls.

2020 Groundwater access for construction industry Ongoing In May 2020, an access point was established for the construction industry to access groundwater for works.  Under Level 5 restrictions, construction industry water users will be required to access groundwater for things such as road works and dust suppression.  Previously, treated water had been used.  This saves Tamworth, Moonbi and Kootingal's treated water supply and gives security of access to water for construction activities during high levels of water restrictions.
2020 Water Restrctions Values and Perceptions Survey - Manilla, Barraba, Attunga, Nundle and Bendemeer                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           September 2020

The Values and Perceptions Survey was designed to capture the feedback or residents in areas that had moved to Permanent Water Conservation Measures in mid-2020.

The Survey gathered feedback on the effectiveness of Council's Marketing and Communications activities throughout the drought and the Drought Management Plan.

2019 120 Megalitre Raw Water Storage Dam at Calala Water Treatment Plant 2019

The 120ML raw water storage dam will improve harvesting efficiency of raw water sourced for the Tamworth, Moonbi and Kootingal town supply from Chaffey Dam by up to 13% annually.

This project will also provide Council with additional operational advantages such as improved raw water quality and potential electricity cost savings.

2016 Utilising backwash water at Barraba (2019) and Nundle (2016) water treatment plants 2019

A portion of backwash waste water (waste product during treatment process) is returned to the head of the plant to be treated again.

This saves the amount of water requiring to be brought in from raw water sources.

2019 Large water users Audits 2019

Recognise efficiencies and identify water savings opportunities

Conserve water now and in the long term

2018 TAFE partnership - water wise garden 2018 Live example of plants and alternative garden surfaces that can save water
2017 Staff Training – water wise gardening and landscaping techniques for public spaces 2017

Engaged and educated staff that are taking water saving knowledge back to the workplace

Several new spaces since developed using the information learned at the training e.g. water wise garden at the Waler Memorial
  Integrated ground water irrigation scheme Ongoing Green spaces and sporting fields able to access ground water, greatly reducing Councils dependence on treated water to maintain essential areas for leisure and recreation.
2017 Lets Thrive Media Campaign Jan 2019

Education campaign targeting outdoor water use and ways to reduce treated water needed to maintain useable and beautiful outdoor residential areas.

Campaign launched as 100GL Chaffey Dam reached 100%, giving residents to convert and establish gardens and outdoor areas better able to survive the next dry/restricted period
2019 Drought Management Plan – Communications and engagement strategy   Behaviour change, manage concerns and create bias to action within the community to conserve water. Ownership and understanding of the “why” and what it means to everyone that we work together.
  Back wash reuse at AELEC Ongoing

“back wash” waste water product produced at treatment plant

Pumped to AELEC and sports precinct for irrigation

Zero treated water used for landscaping irrigation in these spaces
Since 2007 Internal water savings initiatives Ongoing

·         Belmore Park Bore and storm water tank installed to irrigate cricket pitch and adjacent bowling greens 

·         Lockheed Street Depot 200,000 litre rainwater tank installed at depot for vehicle wash-down, toilet flushing, street sweeper and road projects requiring tankers

·         All roundabouts with gardens Dripper systems and timers installed

·         Flynn Street Depot 115 kilolitre rainwater tank installed to be used for mower and vehicle wash-down and CBD bird disruption

·         Botanic Gardens Bore installed

·         Manilla Caravan Park Dual flush toilets installed

·         Manilla Town Halls Tap aerators and thermostatic mixing valves

·         Gipps Street Playing Fields Bore and tank system now irrigates fields completely with groundwater

·         Purchased 500 Greenwell tree watering systems for new tree plantings

·         Forest Road Landfill rainwater tank installed and plumbed to staff amenities

·         Regional Playground synthetic turf installation

·         Sports Dome synthetic turf installation

·         TRECC sensor taps installed throughout venue

·         Whaler memorial park update to drought tolerant garden
Since 2007 Water saving rebates Ongoing Rebates available on a range of water savings products and services offering residents connected to a treated water supply the opportunity to claim a rebate on products that reduce water consumption over the life of the product.  In 2019 the scheme was extended to business and commercial residents connected to a treated water supply.

 

Energy

Year Project Completed Benefit 
 2018        Street light LED upgrade 2018  4,239 lamps upgraded to LED across the region

Payback period 6.2 years

·         Capital cost $1.3 M

·         Savings $200 k p.a.

·         Environmental savings 689 tons of carbon dioxide or 13.8 million black balloons p.a.
2019 Renew Large sites energy contract- twice 2020

·         Large sites saving p.a. compared to standing rates $1.3 M

·         Large sites saving p.a. compared to 2019 rate $183 k

·         18 Councils, others from CNSWJO and REROC

·         $312 k premium to include 20% renewables

Two stage tender process undertaken to renew energy contract for a short term and then again for a long term contract.

Short term (6 month)contract entered into due to market instability and poor pricing

3 year contract commenced in January 2020, markets more stable, pricing better.

Council joined a Council buying group of to leverage best possible price
2018 Renew small sites energy contract 2018

 ·        Small sites saving p.a. compared to standing rate $353 k

3 year contract for small sites energy supply.

NSW Procurement contract had the best financial outcome for Council.

2018 EOI for large scale solar options 2018 Identify the potential opportunities and risks for TRC in investing in large scale solar, business case did not support proceeding, risks were too great.
2018 TRC facility Audits Ongoing TRC facilities ranked in order of priority for energy audits with the following criteria

·         High Energy consumption

·         Potential for energy use reductions

·         Potential for $ savings

Audit schedule being undertaken by Energy Sustainability Officer, report with outcome and recommendations provided to facility managers, support to implement changes given.

Savings measured and recorded.
2019 Upgrade Councils energy management software 2019

Accurate data – able to track energy use, cost

Identify efficiency opportunities, changes to operations utilising off peak times to make $ savings

Identify wastage and save energy use and cost e.g. air conditioners on automatic timers being turned off during holiday shut down periods.
2018-2021 Establish baseline carbon emissions for TRC Ongoing Ensure that energy management software is accurately recording carbon emissions for all of Council (including Landfills, airports, buildings, plant and fleet etc.)– ensuring that all data is able to be sourced and reviewed in a single location.
2018-19 Behind the meter solar at 11 Council facilities May 2020 11 sites identified for BTM solar – energy/$ savings

·         Capital Cost $595,107

·         Savings p.a. $116,000

·         Energy savings p.a. 1 GWh

Emissions savings 820 p.a. tonnes of carbon dioxide or 16.4 million black balloons
2019 NRMA partnership - EV fast charger in Hands of Fame Carpark 2019

Increase access to the region for tourism, day trips for EV owners

Support an increase in EV market across the region

More EV’s = reduction in combustion engines which reduces emissions