Recycling facility fire costs City of Wanneroo $1.6m in refuse fees

Some recycling material has been diverted to landfill following the fire at Cleanaway's South Guildford facility in November. File picture: David Baylis
Some recycling material has been diverted to landfill following the fire at Cleanaway's South Guildford facility in November. File picture: David Baylis

THE Cleanaway recycling facility fire last November has cost the City of Wanneroo an extra $1.6 million in recycled refuse removal fees.

The City’s mid-year budget review, adopted by the council on February 10, said the extra expenses were driven by the higher rate charged to divert waste to Mindarie Regional Council, which operates the landfill site in Tamala Park.

The council report said the City’s insurer, Local Government Insurance Scheme, would reimburse the City about $250,000 to offset the extra recycling costs.

During a confidential session at the February 10 meeting, councillors also received an update on the recycling contract and ongoing negotiations with Cleanaway, as well as considering options to enter agreements with current or new service providers.

Late on Wednesday, Mayor Tracey Roberts said the City had reached an interim recycling arrangement with Southern Metropolitan Regional Council that should start this week.

“The SMRC will be processing recyclable goods while the City continues negotiations with other parties to find a longer-term, sustainable solution that meets the community’s needs and adheres to our high standards for responsible management of the environment,” she said.

In response to questions from the Times, the City advised options being considered included whether it was viable to resume operations at the Wangara materials recycling facility, which closed in 2014.

“The interests of the City’s residents and ratepayers come first in finding a solution that has minimal financial impact and the best environmental outcome in the situation,” assets director Harminder Singh said.

“While it has been necessary for some recyclable material to go to landfill, we consider that to be unacceptable and that’s why we are working hard to find a way forward that meets our customers’ needs and expectations in the shortest time possible.

“As this a matter affecting the whole Perth metropolitan area, we are also holding discussions with the State Government to find a solution.”

The City advised on Wednesday afternoon it had established an interim arrangement with Southern Metropolitan Regional Council to take some recyclable material and was still working on long-term arrangements.

The recycling centre fire in November. Picture: Mark Nowicki

SMRC had been processing more than 200 tonnes from Cleanaway daily since the November fire to late January, but after that agreement ended, Cleanaway sent more than 2400 tonnes to landfill.

The City of Joondalup has been diverting its recyclable material to Suez’s facility in Bibra Lake for processing.

Review sees financial outlook drop for 2019-20

A MID-YEAR budget review said overall the City of Wanneroo’s financial position would be $918,000 lower than expected for 2019-20, dropping from a $843,000 budget surplus to a $75,000 deficit.

Key factors included a $942,000 reduction in rates income because developers and residential property owners had successfully objected to rates imposed and changes to land valuations.

Lower interest earnings, down $1.14 million, and developer contributions, down $6.1 million, were also revealed in the review.

The report said the City did expect to get a $941,000 increase in grants, subsidies and contributions this year.

A $945,000 decrease in employee costs, $64,000 decrease in utility charges, and $8.4 million reduction in capital projects spending were also revealed in the review.

The latter resulted from delays to the Halesworth Park playing fields project beside Alkimos College and designing the southern suburbs library in Landsdale.

Concerns about clearing bushland have delayed construction of the Halesworth Park playing fields in Alkimos.