Council programs finalists in industry excellence awards

Two Council programs driving sustainable agriculture practices and waste reduction measures have been announced as finalists in the 2024 LGPro Awards for Excellence.

The Healthy Landscapes program and a suite of practical Resource Recovery initiatives have both been nominated in the Sustainability Initiative category as part of the annual awards, which recognise the outstanding work by individuals and teams working in local government in Victoria.

The Sustainability Initiative category recognises initiatives that demonstrate excellence in the delivery of environmentally sustainable processes or projects, ensuring present needs are met without compromising future generations.

Council’s increased efforts to ‘close the loop’ in recent years have led to a range of initiatives being implemented, all aimed at helping residents recycle more and waste less; from being one of the first Victorian councils to implement a shire-wide four-bin system, to partnering with the Australian Food and Grocery Council on a soft plastic recycling trial in Romsey, and recently introducing polystyrene and textile recycling at resource recovery facilities.

The above initiatives have resulted in, more than:

  • 5,700 tonnes of glass, 28,900 tonnes of green waste (FOGO) and 8,400 tonnes of recycling being diverted from landfill
  • two tonnes of soft plastic being collected and processed into reusable oil
  • 300m3 of polystyrene and 11 tonnes of textiles diverted from landfill.

In 2023, Council’s landfill diversion rate was 72 per cent –much higher than the average Victorian municipal diversion rate of 48 per cent.

Council’s CEO, Bernie O’Sullivan, said it was pleasing to see Council recognised for its proactive approach to waste management.

“Our Council is committed to implementing innovative recycling options and diverting as much waste from landfill as possible, reflecting a strong desire and commitment from our community,” he said.

“The combined effort of these initiatives over the last few years has seen an increase in the recyclability of many items as well as reduced contamination rates. This has enabled us to achieve some of the highest diversion rates from landfill when compared with other councils.”

Separately, the Healthy Landscapes program was introduced to provide practical education to private land managers, enhancing property productivity, biodiversity, waterway health, and resilience to climate change. The program is tailored to diverse land managers with grazing livestock (such as chickens, cattle, sheep and horses) and cropping interests, offering localised information.

Since 2019, the program has accomplished:

  • 22 webinars to more than 2000 participants
  • 29 field days with more than 630 participants
  • six courses, enabling environmental change across about 4000 hectares
  • 170 property visits.

The program has now grown into a unique partnership funded by three councils – Macedon Ranges Shire Council, Hepburn Shire Council and City of Greater Bendigo – in addition to the North Central Catchment Management Authority, Coliban Water, Melbourne Water and the Upper Campaspe Landcare Network. Mount Alexander Shire Council has also recently confirmed it will join the partnership in July 2024, further expanding the program.

“Since its implementation, the Healthy Landscapes program has successfully engaged private land managers and encouraged changes that enhance their resilience, benefitting the broader community,” Mr O’Sullivan said.

“We are very excited that these two initiatives have been recognised for the positive impact they have had on our community and the environment and we look forward to seeing the outcome of the awards.”

The winner will be announced at the 2024 LGPro Annual Conference Awards Dinner, to be held on Thursday 2 May at the MCG (Melbourne Cricket Ground).

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