Tuesday, December 12, 2023

Report finds closure of Christchurch organics plant would prove costly

Rates would rise and organic waste would be diverted to landfill if Christchurch City Council was to close the organics processing plant in Bromley ahead of establishing a processing plant at another location, the Council said this week.

The Council plans to move the organics processing operation, which Living Earth runs, to a new location but says it will likely be several years before that occurs.

Some Bromley residents do not want to wait that long and have asked the Council to close it immediately, Council said.

report on the implications of closing the plant acknowledged the concerns of many in the Bromley community.

“However, the report says that if the plant closes immediately, all the food scraps and garden waste that Christchurch residents put in their green wheelie bin would end up at Kate Valley landfill because no other processing facility is available to take the city’s kerbside organic waste,” Council said.

That would result in an extra 2,756 truck movements a year making the 140km round trip to Kate Valley from the transfer stations and add $12.7 million a year to the Council’s costs.

“The Council could also lose the waste levy funding that it receives from the Ministry for the Environment as diverting organics to landfill is contra go Government Policy, including the Waste Management Act and the recently released Emissions Reduction Plan.”

Council has calculated total costs could be as high as $28.5 million over the next three years, or $41.4 million over the next five years, if the organics processing plant was to close now.

To meet that additional cost, rates will need to increase until an alternative organics processing plant is operational, it said.

The Council report on the implications of immediately closing the organics processing plant also raises concerns about the environmental impacts of such a move.

It says diverting organic waste to landfill will undermine the Council’s sustainability commitments and is inconsistent with the Council’s 2020 Waste Minimisation and Management Plan, its recent submission on the Government’s Transforming Recycling document, and the Ōtautahi Climate Resilience Strategy 2021.

“Reducing waste is the core message for our ‘Bin Good’ kerbside messaging. When we can’t follow through on our promise as a Council it is hard for residents to stay committed and care. This inconsistency may result in public apathy and distrust in Council for not practicing what we preach,’’ the report states.

The report is recommending that the Council keep the plant operating for now.

The Council’s Finance and Performance Committee will consider the report when it meets tomorrow. The meeting will be live-streamed.

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