Mornington Peninsula Shire Waste Diversion Incentive Program

Mar 10, 2013 by     Comments Off    Posted under: Innovative Practiceand/or Service Delivery Award

When developing new waste management contracts we seized the opportunity, to challenge ourselves and the market to realise ambitious targets for the diversion of municipal waste from landfill. Through applying Green Engineering principles and working collaboratively with our contractors, we improved segregation and recycling systems, to achieve an industry leading diversion rate of 58% within the first 18 months. We achieved significant environmental, social and economic outcomes:

  • Saving valuable resources through reuse and recycling
  • Extending landfill life
  • Reduced greenhouse gas emissions
  • Cost savings passed onto our communities
  • Increased community participation in recycling


Project objectives

Mornington Peninsula Shire enters into long term waste contracts for the operation of its three waste transfer stations and landfill site (contracts are renewed every 5-7 years). When our previous contract expired in 2010, we wanted to ensure that our new contract provisions incorporated Green Engineering principles and the highest possible sustainability outcomes. Our objectives were to:

  • Reduce damage to the environment caused by waste
  • Maximise efficiency in the design of our waste segregation and recycling systems
  • Increase material reuse and recycling
  • Save money
  • Provide waste solutions which are supportive of our community and promote social procurement

Project outcomes

We have demonstrated the value of employing Green Engineering principles in the waste sector. Our outcomes include:

  • Saving valuable resources through recycling and reuse (we achieved auditor verified diversion rates of 58% over the first 18 months)
  • Extended landfill life
  • Reduced greenhouse gas emissions
  • Increased community awareness and participation in recycling
  • Cost savings passed onto our communities
  • Our transfer station Resource Recovery Centre (resale shop) provides meaningful employment and training for many socially disadvantaged people.

Innovative features of the project or service

We have shown that successful government/industry partnerships can result in enterprises which are both commercially viable and achieve exceptional environmental outcomes. The inclusion of clearly defined diversion targets supported by appropriate incentives and penalties, sets the bench mark for best practice contract management in the local government waste sector. We have demonstrated success in working with industry to achieve real cost savings and environmental outcomes and the knowledge gained is not limited to the life of this contract alone. Council now has recycling infrastructure in place which will enable these diversion rates to be achieved (and hopefully exceeded) in future contracts.

Distinguishing features of the project or service highlighting best practice engineering principles and technologies

The choices we make as a Council in waste management have broad ramifications for the social, economic and environmental sustainability of our communities. A key principle of Green Engineering is where possible minimising waste through reuse and recycling. Our new contract provisions incorporated the highest possible sustainability objectives, based upon the following Green Engineering principles:

  • Prevention Instead of Treatment – It is better to prevent waste than to treat or clean up waste after it is formed

Our objective is to ensure that as far as practicable the creation of waste is minimised by using community education and pricing tools. The priority for the remaining waste is recycling and reuse, rather than ending up in landfill. We want to minimise the environmental impacts from landfill waste including potential soil and water contamination and production of green house gas emissions.

  •  Maximize Efficiency – Products, processes, and systems should be designed to maximize mass, energy, space, and time efficiency

We designed a system for maximum segregation of recyclables at our waste transfer Stations, while minimising other environmental impacts. Investment in new physical infrastructure (bins, loaders, plant machinery and clear signage) enabled us to better segregate waste on site and reduce transport requirements, fuel consumption and the generation of greenhouse gas emissions.

  • Conserve Complexity – Embedded entropy and complexity must be viewed as an investment when making design choices on recycle, reuse, or beneficial disposition.

Through facilitating the recycling and reuse of products we utilise and conserve the embedded energy in a product and avoid the unnecessary consumption of virgin materials, and subsequent environmental damage.

Benefit to the community of the project or service

In our ‘Municipal Waste Management Strategy’ we made a commitment that any new landfill or transfer station contract would have clearly defined recovery/diversion targets with appropriate incentives and penalties. Our pro-active approach to waste management is aligned with the Victorian Government’s Towards Zero Waste Strategy and the newly articulated strategic directions of Sustainability Victoria. The Towards Zero Waste strategy is guided by three main objectives. These are to:

  • • Generate less waste
  • • Increase the amount of materials for recycling and reprocessing
  • • Reduce damage to our environment caused by waste

The strategy outlines sector specific targets for recycling waste (including municipal waste), to achieve these state-wide objectives. By incorporating targets for waste diversion into our waste contracts, not only are we achieving our regional goals but we are contributing to these broader state wide objectives.

 Program and program management highlighting how any barriers were overcome to achieve success

Prior to 2010, the highest diversion rate that had been achieved at the Shire’s waste facilities was 13%, and in developing our new waste contracts we were keen to see if higher diversion rates were achievable. We undertook extensive research and found that a 20% diversion rate had been achieved elsewhere, so we included in the new contract provisions, incentives for our contractor to reach a target of 20% of waste diverted from landfill in year 1, increasing by 7.5% annually for the next five years, to a diversion rate of 50% in year 5. However we had genuine concerns that our diversion targets might be too ambitious for the market and could be too costly for the Shire. Even though there was uncertainty, we boldly went ahead and worked collaboratively with our contractor to put in place new waste infrastructure and systems at our waste transfer stations so these targets could be met. Capital was invested in additional waste infrastructure which allowed us to better segregate timber, construction rubble and hard waste, more staff were employed and we re-evaluated our waste system to ensure that hard waste was directed to recyclers rather than landfill wherever possible.

Costs/benefits associated with the project

Since the commencement of the contract, our targets have not only been met but greatly exceeded, and we achieved auditor verified diversion rates of 58% within the first 18 months – a result well above our initial target of 20%. This industry leading result (not matched by any other Council in Victoria) has resulted in significant cost savings for Council. Tipping costs for disposal of hard waste at a private landfill were reduced by $1.7M for the 18 months, resulting in a direct saving to Council.


Mornington Peninsula Shire’s Sustainable Infrastructure Renewable Resources Team is a small but focused team of 11 committed staff who have a strong track record in achieving sustainable outcomes. We believe that sustainability comes about not by taking one big step overnight, but by many small steps taken together in the spirit of partnership and shared learning. Our team includes staff with diverse expertise in waste management, water quality, energy efficiency, climate change and strategic policy development and we typically work together on projects to draw upon our different strengths to achieve the best possible outcomes. When developing our new waste contract we bought together team members with expertise in waste management and infrastructure, contract management and strategic sustainability planning, and other team members provided valuable feedback throughout the process. We undertook extensive industry research to better understand the current state of play in the waste sector and whether our proposed targets would be achievable. We considered the impacts of this change on local waste and recycling industries, markets for diverted waste, costs associated with segregation and recycling, and capital costs for additional infrastructure and broader trends in the waste industry. This project demonstrates the passion that Mornington Peninsula Shire’s Sustainable Infrastructure Renewable Resources team has for the delivery of truly sustainable waste management services – we are willing to set the bar high and work collaboratively to achieve industry leading waste diversion targets.

As a team we place a strong emphasis on sharing with others what we have learnt and routinely develop case studies and reports on the outcomes of our sustainability initiatives. We believe that our achievements have relevance not only for the waste sector but for local government contract management more broadly. Already, other Council departments are following our example – recently the tender specifications for one of Council’s major maintenance contracts included sustainability targets and incentives for performance. We are also keen to share our story at industry conferences and in publications. This is a good news story for the waste sector; we have verifiable and independently audited results which show that the application of Green Engineering principles in municipal waste management results in real costs savings for local government and industry, as well as tangible environmental outcomes.


The choices we make as a Council today, impact the social, economic and environmental sustainability our communities tomorrow. As our waste contracts are typically long term it is crucial that we make decisions that will provide the best possible outcomes into the future. Through applying Green Engineering principles to our management of municipal waste we have achieved multiple sustainability outcomes, including:

  • Protection of the Environment

The breakdown of waste in landfill results in the generation of greenhouse gas emissions over the life of a landfill (including for many years after a landfill is closed). This is by far the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions that Council produces and wherever possible we want to minimise our emissions and impacts on climate change. Through the waste recycling rates we have achieved we have greatly reduced our greenhouse gas emissions. This is in addition to the environmental benefits achieved from recycling and reusing valuable resources.

  •  Cost savings passed onto our communities

We also need to be fiscally responsible and by recycling more we are extending the life of our current landfill and saving our community money. Eventually, when our current landfill is full (anticipated to be within the next 5 years) we will need to divert this waste to other commercial landfill sites which is expected to be more costly for our community. Tipping costs for disposal of hard waste at a private landfill were significantly reduced, resulting in a direct saving to Council, which is passed onto our community.

  •  Community Education about Recycling

Due to these initiatives our waste transfer stations also now include dedicated segregation areas for hard waste, timber, rubble/ concrete etc., and when people visit our waste transfer stations they are asked to segregate their loads. This is an important behavioural change which encourages people to consider what they are throwing away.

  • Promoting Social Sustainability

Recycling through our Resource Recovery centre (resale shop), is an important social enterprise as it provides the opportunity for many socially disadvantaged people to gain meaningful employment.

  • Providing Leadership in the Waste Industry

This project shows that when local government is courageous and provides strong leadership in environmental sustainability, industry also steps up to the challenge and responds with innovative solutions.

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