Maitland City Council will keep paying millions of dollars a year to truck its garbage to Newcastle, which raked in $53 million in revenue last year from the Summerhill mega-dump.
The neighbouring councils' contrasting fortunes when it comes to waste could not be more stark.
Maitland's Mount Vincent Road tip, serving the fastest-growing inland local government area in the state, is close to capacity and the council has no viable alternative site to build a new one.
The council hopes to reduce its reliance on Newcastle after the Hunter Central Coast Regional Planning Panel, a NSW government entity which assesses major projects, approved a $14 million waste transfer and recycling station at the Mount Vincent Road tip.
But, even when this facility finally opens, Maitland will still need to pay to transport and dump the bulk of its domestic waste elsewhere.
Newcastle, meanwhile, is spending $22 million on the latest expansion of the Summerhill landfill after making an after-tax profit of $6.4 million on its waste management operations in 2018-19.
City of Newcastle's latest annual report reveals that it expects to earn about $15 million for receiving Maitland's domestic waste over the next three years.
Maitland council's planning and environment group manager, Matthew Prendergast, said the council had entered into a new three-year contract with Newcastle.
"The volume of waste fluctuates, however, costs are charged on a per tonne rate in accordance with the commercial contract between the councils," he said.
Summerhill at its current rate of tonnage can continue to accept waste to landfill for well over another 100 years.City of Newcastle
Maitland has paid $5.9 million in government waste levies over the past two years as part of its contract with Newcastle.
Newcastle council would not comment on the revenue and tonnage included in the Maitland contract, but a spokesperson said it would have little impact on Summerhill's lifespan.
"City of Newcastle is fortunate to have an asset such as Summerhill Waste Management Centre that at its current rate of tonnage can continue to accept waste to landfill for well over 100 years," the spokesperson said.
The 70-hectare Summerhill waste centre is one of the largest in NSW. It accepts residential waste from neighbouring councils and serves commercial contractors from Sydney to Port Macquarie.
Newcastle paid $32 million to the state government in the $143-a-tonne waste levies last financial year, a tax lord mayor Nuatali Nelmes believes should be refunded to councils, but still ended up $6.4 million in the black.
The council also opened a $6 million resource recovery centre at Summerhill on Wednesday where residents can drop off pre-sorted recyclable materials for free.
The centre can process 30,000 tonnes a year, up from 12,000, about 20 per cent of which will be recycled.
Maitland spent three years gaining approval for its waste transfer and recycling station, a saga which included buying an adjoining property after Land and Environment Court proceedings led to a confidential settlement in January 2018.
Lake Macquarie City Council recently opened a $29 million expansion of its Awaba landfill which will extend the tip's life for 20 years.