Towards 2014 - The Waste Diversion Challenge

Posted on Thursday, 22 July 2010
Part of the Industry News category

Over the past few decades, waste management authorities have had to face up to the changing social, environmental and economic circumstances of putting waste to landfill. The responses to these changes can be placed into three general categories:

  • State legislation to reduce packaging or use of non-environmentally friendly materials;
  • Encouraging the consumer to separate waste into recyclable and non-recyclable streams;
  • Utilization of current alternate waste technologies (AWT) to turn waste into useful commodities. AWT often require different or no separation of waste materials by the consumer.

Local waste management authorities therefore find themselves in the unenviable position of having to make strategic decisions on waste separation based on the perceived future improvements in AWT, achievable recycling rates through “separation at the source”, future costs and the relative values of the recycled products produced.

Due to the limited landfill options, the New South Wales (NSW) State Government has set a target of the diversion of waste from landfill of 66% by the year 2014. The NSW Waste Avoidance and Resource Recovery Act 2001 has identified specific waste diversion actions which require Councils to rethink their waste collection and disposal practices

Achievable recycling quantities and rates are depended on many factors including:

  • The amount and type of products consumed;
  • The amount and type of waste produced during consumption;
  • The amount and type of packaging;
  • Convenience and cost effectiveness for the consumer of recycling options available compared with waste to landfill options;
  • Social factors (local consumer willingness and commitment to recycling);
  • Current technologies and economic viability for recycling the many waste materials into reusable products.

Many waste management authorities have reduced the amount of waste going to landfills as a result of the reduction of residual waste bin size and the enhancement of the recycling services.

Other authorities treat general waste using a variety of AWT processes, producing products with a range of economic and environmental benefits.

. Why do it……

Waste Tracking and Collection systems can offer many options; some of these are as follows:

  • Ability to track lifts and weight of each bin;
  • Prompt information transfer to the office via a wireless link after scanning;
  • Generation of real-time reports; and
  • Ability to easily flag overweight and incorrectly placed bins and observed contamination.

What can be gained….

Immediate benefits that can be realised by the use of the electronic tagging and weighing system:

  • Availability of fast, accurate, cost-effective and detailed information;
  • Ability to track the total number & weight of bin lifts;
  • Accurate, individual bin weight determination (+- 5%);
  • A means of recording double-dumps of the same bin;
  • Identification of properties which have acquired bins to which they are not entitled or don’t pay for;
  • Ability to track lost / stolen bins via cabin GPS information;
  • Ability to analyze the data captured to assess recycling trends in areas or suburbs of interest;
  • Ability to calculate actual bin participation rates;
  • Ability to pay the contractor for only those bins that were presented and serviced;
  • Ability to use the lift weight data to check contractor’s weighbridge figures and claims for payment;
  • Ability to quickly generate specific reports on data of interest;
  • Ability to investigate public complaints using information such as bin lift time, truck identification and operator identification;
  • Ability for the Contractor to plan and control driver runs; and
  • Ability to differentiate commercial bins from residential bins.

Electronic tagging and weighing systems provide mechanisms to increase recycling rates beyond what is achievable using traditional separation by the consumer approaches.

It enables the targeting of education campaigns or enforcement programs on a suburb, street, or individual property basis. It enables pricing differentials for households based on how much waste they produce, similar to the pay by consumption approach for most other essential services (e.g. water, power, telecommunications).

Finally, the system has the potential to improve the value of the recyclable product through collection monitoring, such as tagged video footage of contamination. Such information systems could also aid in the development and monitoring of other sustainability initiatives such as carbon credit schemes.

Markets for new and existing recycled commodities will be vital to the sustainability of the waste industry, as will the ability to influence and educate consumers and waste producers.

What does it cost….

The cost of the electronic waste and recycling bin tagging and weighing system is very dependent on what final configuration is decided upon. Service options include:

  • Simple GPS tracking
  • Full RFID tagging
  • Individual bin weighing
  • Video recording and transmission
  • In cabin touch screens for driver input

There are however some cost offsets to be considered.

Firstly, the new service can significantly reduce the amount of waste now going to landfill, which translates into an associated reduction in disposal costs.

Secondly, contract payments are made on a verified bin lift basis, i.e. the number of bins actually lifted. In some contracts the number of bins (issued) is used to determine the contract payment, that is, maximum number of bins possible to be lifted.

Thirdly, the tagging system can help eliminate a substantial number of additional bins that had been acquired by residents but were not being pay for.

For more information on the full suite of options available with WASTEMate, please contact Ray Gonella on (02) 9756 2622 or view our website at

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