10 February 2023

Recycling stockpile still to be cleared in wake of MRF fire

| Ian Bushnell
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Chris Steel and Jim Corrigan at Hume MRF

TCCS Director-General Jim Corrigan and Transport and City Services Minister Chris Steel at the fire-damaged Hume MRF. Photo: Ian Bushnell.

The ACT is sending its recycling waste to four facilities interstate but is yet to clear the stockpile created by the fire that gutted the Material Recovery Facility site in Hume in December.

The fire was a significant setback for recycling in the ACT and it may take years before the Territory can process its own recyclable waste again.

The government plans to build a new MRF next to the old facility, assisted by $10 million of Commonwealth money. Transport and City Services Minister Chris Steel said the government would try to fast-track its construction in light of the fire.

READ ALSO Payroll tax revenue outstrips rates money as Territory puts land tax dodgers in its sights

An ACT Government spokesperson said that about 178 tonnes of waste a day was being trucked out of Canberra to three material recycling facilities in Western Sydney and one in Victoria.

The stockpile at the Mugga Lane Resource Management Centre was expected to be cleared by late March, with the number of trucks ramping up over the coming weeks.

As of 7 February, the stockpile was 1783 tonnes, down from a peak of 2200 tonnes.

“To date, no materials have been sent to landfill, with all materials stockpiled prior to interstate transport for processing,” the spokesperson said.

The spokesperson did not say how much this was costing, but Mr Steel said last month the government was paying $75 to $85 a tonne to truck it to Sydney.

The burnt out recycling centre

The scene at the recycling centre the morning after the fire. Photo: ESA.

Baling of comingled and mixed recyclables was expected to commence next week at the MRF site which will assist in improving available site storage capacity and transportation efficiency.

The cause of the fire remained unknown but forensic investigations were still ongoing.

“It is not yet clear if a specific cause will be identified,” the spokesperson said.

“The insurance claim process is underway but has not been finalised, which is to be expected given the scale of the loss.”

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The government was still weighing what to do with the existing building, some of which it hoped to salvage.

Mr Steel had said that, at a minimum, the government would like the site to be used as a transfer station to store material for processing interstate and other recycling facilities.

There was no word on when the new facility, originally expected to come online in late 2024, might be able to be built.

“Timelines for the new facility are still being developed in consultation with relevant stakeholders,” the spokesperson said.

The Territory’s yellow-top household recycling bins continue to be emptied as normal.

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ChrisinTurner6:28 pm 11 Feb 23

No one knows what is happening.

The pitfalls of recycling is that anyone could put anything in there.

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