Newcastle City Council will build a $12.8 million organic waste recycling plant at Summerhill but has no immediate plans to change kerbside bin pick-ups.
The council now shreds organic waste at Summerhill and sends it to Muswellbrook for processing.
The new plant, to be built with council funds and a $1.5 million grant from the state government’s Organics Infrastructure Program, is expected to open in 2020 or 2021.
It will accept only garden waste initially, turning about 19,000 tonnes into 11,000 tonnes of organic products in its first year, but will accept food waste about three or four years later.
Its maximum capacity will be about 50,000 tonnes, and it could handle green waste from neighbouring councils.
Lake Macquarie City Council’s green waste contractor, Remondis, is building a recycling plant for food and garden waste next to the Awaba tip.
Lake Macquarie plans to overhaul its regular kerbside bin collections from July. It will continue to collect yellow recycling bins every fortnight, but it will move to weekly collections of food and garden waste in green bins and fortnightly pick-ups of general waste (red bins).
Newcastle council chief executive officer Jeremy Bath said at a media launch on Thursday that Newcastle had no plans to change pick-ups.
“What we’re talking about is in … probably six to seven years we’ll actually be encouraging people, instead of using your red bin for food scraps, seeing your food scraps go into your green bin,” he said. “But we’re not looking at any change in terms of the frequency.”
A council media release quoted Mr Bath saying kerbside collections would stay the same “for the time being”.
“However, the creation of this new facility means we can start thinking about more effective ways to handle the city’s waste and divert more of it away from landfill.”
Mr Bath said at the launch that residents faced a “significant change ... in terms of the way they look at waste”.
“We know that in terms of our general waste about 50 per cent of what we’re putting in our red bins is organic waste. It’s food scraps. And that will in the longer term all be waste that will no longer go into landfill.”
He said the plant would pay for itself in less than six years. One of the cost savings would be $800,000 a year in landfill levies to the state government.
The plant would produce up to 28,000 tonnes of mulch, compost and soil conditioner for council parks and gardens and for sale to the public.