Crisis talks as waste piles up

CRISIS talks are underway on how to deal with Bayswater and Vincent’s recycling.

The two council were among 20 affected when fire ripped through Cleanaway’s recycling plant in South Guildford in November.

Contractor Cleanaway has been trucking some recycling to the South Metropolitan Regional Council’s processing centre, but the deal expired on January 24 and a new one is still being thrashed out.

The Voice has heard the SMRC has to expand its operations to handle all Cleanaway’s recycling and wants some certainty on duration and price. It’s more expensive to process recycling at SMRC and Cleanaway was wearing the gap, as the company’s contracts with councils locked them into a low price-per-tonne.

Recycling hit

On Wednesday February 5 the WA Local Government Association held an urgent meeting with affected councils and the state government environment department to try to figure out a solution.

Vincent mayor Emma Cole is urging people to keep recycling in the meantime as it might be solved any day now.

“It’s really fast moving… please continue recycling, we’re hoping this is a really short-term problem and there’s a lot of work going on to resolve this as quickly as possible.

“We’re even hoping in the meantime that SMRC could resolve to keep their interim solution going.”

She said Vincent only got one day’s notice from Cleanaway that the SMRC deal had faltered.

Vincent would have a tough time detangling itself from Cleanaway’s contract because it’s a “bundled” deal for both collection and processing. Even if the council switched to processing at the SMRC (which carries a stiffer price per tonne than Cleanaway) it’d take time to go through the motions to cancel Cleanaway’s trucking contract and bring in new garbos.

Vincent has asked Cleanaway to stockpile the recyclables until a deal’s worked out, but the piles of junk at the company’s South Guildford plant keep catching fire.

Fires at waste processing plants are a common problem worldwide but Cleanaway’s sites have seemed particularly flammable lately.

Before the South Guildford plant was destroyed on November 25, it also had a smaller fire in late October. Stockpiled recycling there caught fire late December and in early January.

Rebuild

Its Kwinana oil waste plant operated by subsidiary Tox Free Solutions had a fire on January 7, and its Dardanup facility had its disposal dumps alight on January 12 and January 27.

Cleanaway’s long-term plan is to rebuild the high-tech South Guildford plant, and in the meantime is looking at other sites to do manual processing.

by DAVID BELL

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