DISUSED quarries at Leongatha South and at Yallourn remain the preferred sites for Veolia to dump 200,000 tonnes of southeast Melbourne’s landfill waste per year.
But Matthew Peake, executive officer of the Gippsland Waste and Resource Recovery Group, said it had still not been determined whether either site would be required at all.
Members of the group, including Mr Peake, were in Leongatha and Foster last week conducting meetings with local industry representatives and then later with the general public.
The meetings are part of the process to develop the Gippsland Waste and Resource Recovery Implementation Plan.
That plan will identify the need for any proposed landfill sites.
Mr Peake said that could be determined within weeks.
“Is landfill the best solution? The state policy is about reducing the amount of waste that goes to landfill.
“We know we can’t deal with it all through recycling, so there will be a need for landfill for the foreseeable future. It’s whether the existing facilities will be sufficient.
“We’re talking to current local operators, which are mostly councils, about their projected models and the lifespans of their facilities.
“If it’s deemed that we need more, we’ll ask those with options to come to us.
“If it’s not, we won’t ask that question.
“We don’t want an oversupply of landfill.
“If it’s cheap and available, everything would end up in landfill and that’s certainly not what we want.
“We’re after a solution that has the least impact on public health and the environment.”
Even if the plan highlights a need for a new landfill site, Mr Peake said the planning process could take years.
“The site assessments would be based on the environmental settings and other parameters affecting the site.”
He said it may be that the preferred option for a large landfill site is not in the South Gippsland or Bass Coast shires, despite Veolia preferences.
Mr Peake said the days of a council handling its own waste were over.
“Local governments are now working in partnership. Baw Baw has no landfill. It uses the facilities in the Latrobe Valley and sends commercial waste to Melbourne.
“The commercial sector doesn’t recognise these municipal or regional boundaries,” Mr Peake said.
Despite Veolia representatives Andrew Race and Tom Wetherill attending the industry forum, the proposed Leongatha South site was not mentioned openly.
They did lend their experience to the discussion, which covered a myriad of waste management issues.
Private waste operators highlighted the issues with recycling, particularly in coastal areas over the holidays where “tourists must have left their brains at home”.
“It appears people just don’t care,” one operator said.
South Gippsland Shire Council representatives spoke about the financial problems associated with offering new recycling services given that rate capping will be introduced.
New composting collections and e-Waste collections similar to the DrumMuster program were also discussed.