The team behind the Tuncurry Community Recycling Centre has been acknowledged for its efforts in responsible waste management, striking gold for being green at this year’s Engineering Excellence Awards.
Since the state-of-the-art waste management facility, located on Midge Orchid Road, Tuncurry, was officially opened in November 2017 it has diverted close to 30 tonnes of problem waste.
This is a 1800 per cent increase on previous years.
Recognised by IPWEA (NSW) judges as a practical illustration of the waste avoidance and resource recovery strategy in action, the project was awarded in the recovering, recyling and reusing category.
"Council has redeveloped the existing Tuncurry waste facility from a landfill site to a $4.5 million multi-functional integrated waste management facility,” IPWEA judges John O'Connor and Greg Moran said.
The one-stop community recycling precinct incorporates a welcoming entry way that creatively showcases recycled materials, a Green Shop focused on re-use, Forster Tuncurry Men’s Shed whose members re-use timber and metal recovered from the site, a Green Bikes area for repairing discarded bikes, a Return and Earn facility, and The Green, an educational space used for workshops and community gatherings to promote recycling, composting, upcycling and environmentally friendly ways to manage waste.
And that’s all in addition to its drive-in-drive-out waste disposal system incorporating a community recycling centre, dual digital weighbridge system, and waste transfer station.
“From the outset our concept, based on years of research, was to develop a safe and user friendly site that embraced waste prevention techniques – reduce, reuse, recycle and recover - in a changing environment,” MidCoast Council acting planning and natural systems director, Paul De Szell said.
“The waste team worked closely with our engineers and project managers, to transform the industrial, at-capacity landfill site into a recycling precinct where our community feels welcome and are encouraged to re-imagine the way they think about waste.”
Environmental considerations throughout the design and construction phase included the use of crushed glass and rainwater harvesting to create a water sensitive urban design, relocating tree stumps for rehabilitation of a sewer treatment site, use of woodchips for landscaping, recycled materials used in hard stand pavements, installation of skylights, and re-use and re-purposing of components from the existing facility.
“A site masterplan co-ordinated the detailed design of multiple disciplines across the site, also providing opportunities for community groups to work together on the site to achieve a common goal of waste diversion from landfill to recycling.”
A surprising discovery during construction was the critically endangered Tuncurry Midge Orchid, unique and endemic to a small geographic area north of Tuncurry.
“While our initial design for the facility needed to be adapted, establishing a conservation area to protect the Midge Orchid really adds to the environmental interest of the Tuncurry facility,” Mr De Szell said.
“The address for the centre has also been changed from Tip Road to Midge Orchid Road to highlight the significance of our discovery.”
The Institute of Public Works Engineering Australasia (IPWEA) is the peak association for the professionals who deliver public works and engineering services to communities in Australia and New Zealand.
For more information about the Tuncurry Community Recycling Centre, and to find out how you can help reduce the amount of waste ending up in MidCoast landfills, visit www.midcoast.nsw.gov.au/waste