- Council says the waste and resource recovery operations were losing more than $4 million a year
- Council is not looking to sell the operation
- Council is looking to contract services
- Council will retain control over the operation
Lismore Council is investigating some of its waste services, and to respond some of the rumours surrounding the decision, the council has released a fact sheet, along with a statement Mayor Steve Krieg.
The council reviewed its waste strategy, and councillors voted at the latest council meeting to adopt Model Option C.
Here are the council's details of the Waste Service Review:
Myth vs fact
MYTH: Councils Waste and resource recovery operations are profitable.
FACT: Council's waste and resource recovery operations incurred an average annual loss of $4.31 million per year across FY19/20, FY20/21, and FY21/22. The estimated loss for the current financial year (FY23/24) is $6.52 million.
MYTH: Councils waste collection service is profitable.
FACT: Council determines fees for provision of a domestic waste service to the community based on projection of costs for managing domestic waste including kerbside collection. These contribute to covering the costs of managing and providing a domestic waste service. There is no profit.
MYTH: Buying a new fleet is a better option.
FACT: The option of buying a new fleet of waste vehicles was assessed in the multi-criteria analysis on non-financial attributes and financial performance. It was not determined to be the most sustainable model over a 20-year forecast, nor was it something within the council's current capacity to implement based on capital investment and equipment lead times.
MYTH: The proposed changes jeopardise Lismore's environmental targets and aspirations.
FACT: The holistic analysis compared strategic investment options not just for financial outcomes, but also for social and environmental outcomes for the city. The proposed model scored much higher in terms of the potential social and environmental outcomes it would achieve for the community when compared to current and alternate operating models.
MYTH: Council will be privatising waste collection services.
FACT: Council is considering engaging a contractor for collections and materials recycling separation. As a contractor, the provider would be delivering the service on behalf of council with service levels and standards determined by council on behalf of community. Privatisation involves government selling an asset or service to a private business to run how they wish. That is not the case with the proposed model.
MYTH: Local spend will be diminished if we adopt a contracted service model.
FACT: Council procurement policy supports local buy with a scaled benefit which favours local businesses applying for contracts. Local investment continues to be a strategic focus for procuring contractors and suppliers for council services for our community.
MYTH: The contractor will decide what happens to the waste.
FACT: All council engaged contractors are bound by the terms set out, by the council, in the terms of their contract. The council will retain control over the decision of how waste and resource recovery operations are operated for our community, including what happens to the waste.
MYTH: Council has already decided to engage a particular contractor.
FACT: Council has resolved to investigate the feasibility of implementing recommendations from the waste services report. There are a number of steps and decision points yet to occur over a period of time, including engaging a contractor. These steps include consultation with council staff and relevant unions, and as required, bringing any decisions on contracts back to council for further decision.
FAQs What were the key findings of the Waste Services Review Report?
1. The report provides the most comprehensive review of the council's waste and resource recovery operations ever undertaken by council. The findings provide full transparency of waste service operations showing the service incurred an average annual loss of $4.31 million per year across FY19/20, FY20/21, & FY21/22 with an estimated loss for the current financial year of (FY23/24) of $6.52 million.
2. It highlighted that the current adopted waste strategy (Resource Recovery and Residual Waste Strategy 2022-2032) is founded on significant untested assumptions which are unlikely to materialise, and that continuing to pursue the current strategy may result in the current financial losses continuing in the order of $6-8M per year.
3. It identified a number of improvement investment options for all strategic and operational aspects of the Waste Service, and focused on those strategic investment options which would have the most significant and sustainable positive impact on the council's overall waste and resource recovery operations.
4. It assessed Council's Waste Service as 'Low Service Level' identifying collections, materials recycling, and landfilling as key focus areas for improvement with recommendations of the steps required to achieve that improvement.
5. It clarified that remediating the current situation within waste services would require a shift to a different strategic model to the one outlined in Council's Resource Recovery and Residual Waste Strategy 2022-2032. It also identified that the problems would not be resolved with simple performance or efficiency improvements to the current model.
What options and recommendations did the Waste Services Review Report provide?
1. The report provided a comprehensive list of operational and strategic investment options for all functional areas of Council's waste and resource recovery operations including collections, materials recycling, resource recovery, landfill cell management and capping, organics processing and regional partnerships.
2. It identified all the strategic investment options that would have the most significant impact, then assessed each of these options via a multi-criteria analysis method considering financial, social and environmental outcomes. It grouped these options together to form seven (7) different Strategic Operating Models for Council's Waste Service. Each model was thoroughly assessed. The overall outcome of the assessment indicated that the alternate Balanced Regional Model (C) offered the most merit, had the most positive financial profile, and had the potential for approximately $30M in savings over the assessment period of 20 years compared to the Base Case.
3. The report recommended a transition to Balanced Regional Model (C) and identified a list of actions for the council to take to pursue this different pathway.
What are the next step actions identified as part of implementing Balanced Regional Model (C) (adopted by the council on November 28, 2023)?
1. Approval will still be required from relevant decision-makers at various decision points to pursue Balanced Regional Model (C) as an alternate long-term strategy for the waste and resource recovery operations. In particular, approval will be sought for:
i. The establishment of contracted services for kerbside collections and comingled recycling separation (Material Recycling Facility) via competitive tendering processes.
ii. Retaining the Revolve Shop at the Lismore Recycling and Recovery Centre and continuing to pursue partnership opportunities to maximise resource recovery and community interaction.
iii. Detailed due diligence of long-term landfilling solutions, including landfilling options at the Lismore Recycling and Recovery Centre and regional landfilling options, with the intention of making a strategic decision regarding long-term landfilling in the next two to three years.
iv. Detailed due diligence of long-term regional organics processing solutions. This due diligence work could be completed in conjunction with due diligence on long-term landfilling.
What has been communicated to potentially affected staff to date?
Following finalisation of the report, and in consultation with the Unions, council staff met with potentially affected staff and advised of the finalised report being imminently provided to councillors.
Recommendations from the report particularly relating to collections and materials recycling were shared with potentially affected staff. Staff were advised that:
i. Any changes in strategic direction would be by decision of the council
ii. Should Council proceed with a pursuing a recommended pathway, full and proper consultation in accordance with the award would be carried out by the council
iii. That regardless of any decision from the council, potentially affected staff were informed there would be no job losses.