New RON project a win for carbon emissions

October 20, 2021 BY

Cr Belinda Moloney

HEY legends, quite a lot has happened since my last column, both on council and in the community.

Spring has sprung, flowers are blooming and big things are kicking off all around the place.

As I write this, I’ve just had some good news regarding what we’re doing with organic household material in our region.

Regional Renewable Organics Network

Each year, the amount of waste that we produce doubles, and as the Greater Geelong population grows, we need to manage our household waste in a way that reduces what goes into our red landfill bins.

Typically, your food waste generates greenhouse gas emissions and Victoria’s Environment Protection Authority (EPA) has increased the costs of adding to landfill, to discourage adding further refuse to existing sites.

Applying a creative solution to the landfill issue, Barwon Water has partnered with the City of Greater Geelong and other local councils to deliver the Regional Renewable Organics Network, known as the ‘RON’.

The RON will take 40,000 tonnes of household, commercial and industrial organic waste, reducing it into 8,000 tonnes of organic matter that is cleaned of contaminants and processed into specialised, high value organic materials, used by agribusinesses to add organic material high in carbon and nutrients back into the soil.

Some of the fascinating ways that the organic waste is processed include anaerobic digestion, the use of natural bacteria, and carbonisation. The processing of organic matter emits gasses (typically methane), which the project aims to capture and filter in order to reuse as biogas, assisting to power the site.

The network will benefit households that are unable to use other mechanisms to manage food waste, such as compost bins or worm farms, and hopefully divert a massive amount of food waste from the hospitality sector.

As a result of this project, around 15,000 tonnes of total carbon emissions or the equivalent of 4,000 vehicles being removed from the road – fantastic!

Approximately 75 construction and 36 permanent jobs will be generated from the organics network development and I’m looking forward to seeing it come to life at the proposed Black Rock location.

The current project stage is seeking community feedback into the project’s design, please visit: yoursay.barwonwater.vic.gov.au/ron to lend your thoughts regarding this project.

New Environmental Laws under the EPA  Act

On July 1, 2021, the new Environment Protection Act commenced, which changes the way that the Victorian Government can protect our environment and community from the harmful impacts of pollution and waste.

As an independent regulator, the EPA’s new act aims to change the game by shifting from a consequence-based to prevention-based legislation, focusing on using systems to reduce risks to us and our environment and as an IT nerd, I believe this to be a fabulous development.

Combining two of my favourite thing s- systems and education – the new laws aim to ensure that a duty of responsibility is embedded and legislated for everyone from big business to individuals.

Updates to the act include duties that prevent and mitigate pollution, outlining that everyone has a duty to eliminate and reduce risks of pollution, while implementing controls and penalties for anyone who breaches these duties.

What does this mean? There is a legal responsibility to respond and notify the EPA of any pollution incidents and restore the affected area.

If you encounter anyone breaching these laws, including reporting litter or pollution such as smoke, odour, illegal waste disposal or balloon releases (horrible for our waterways), please visit the EPA website: epa.vic.gov.au.

G21 Environmental Pillar Refresh

Our G21 Region Alliance provides a wonderful opportunity to combine the forces of five local government areas towards guiding investment and growth that benefits our regions.

It is great to see that the G21 priorities have been recently refreshed and there appears to be a prominent focus on environmental development, growing liveable communities and ensuring that elements such as transport networks and shared trails for active transport are available to all.

One notable outcome of the refresh includes increased advocacy for public and low-carbon emission transport and recommendations for the installation of electric vehicle charging stations around our region.

Another item that the refresh flags as important is the need for an improved circular economy, and attracting both the research and development of clean energy technology.

Exciting times ahead and I’m looking forward to seeing how this priority refresh plays out in all levels of government.

Hope to see you out and about soon, and feel free to get in touch at [email protected]

Peace.

Cr Belinda Moloney

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