The Mugga lane Tip. Pictured is the current landfill site. Photo: Graham Tidy
Canberra's only garbage tip is set to expand by 37 hectares - or nearly a third of its size - with the ACT government promising air and odour studies before it goes ahead.
The expansion comes as the new Territory and Municipal Services Minister, Greens MLA Shane Rattenbury, said Canberrans had to do more to stop waste going to landfill.
The newly minted Greens-Labor parliamentary agreement included a commitment for government subsidies on composting equipment for residents and a comprehensive education program to reduce organic household waste, with details still to be confirmed.
An artist's rendering of the proposed next stage of landfill area at the Mugga Lane tip.
''I think the ACT has got a great track record of being at the forefront of recycling and recovery rate, but now is the time to step up to the next level,'' Mr Rattenbury said.
Of a bigger tip, he said: ''I'm quite pragmatic about this. We do need a new landfill, but we also need to put in place policies that extend its life and reduce the amount of waste generated.''
Mr Rattenbury said there was no silver bullet to reduce waste, but a series of initiatives were needed, all the way down to collection points for light bulbs and batteries.
A draft variation to the Territory Plan and an environmental impact statement are being prepared to allow the 122 hectare Mugga Lane tip to expand eastwards, closer to the Monaro Highway. The government's consultation will include a telephone survey, shopping centre displays and presentations to community councils.
ACT NOWaste director Chris Ware said the expanded tip was expected to serve the territory's need for landfill until at least 2035.
The government had already purchased private land required for the tip expansion.
''It is estimated that the current landfill area can only accommodate another three years of waste generated by the ACT,'' he said.
The Tuggeranong Community Council has received complaints in the past about smells from the tip drifting over nearby Macarthur and concerns about possible leaching of the garbage into local waterways.
A spokesman for TAMS said the environmental impact statement now being prepared included air and odour studies.
''As part of the present landfill, environmental monitoring and regular water quality testing occurs,'' he said.
About 30 per cent of waste generated in the ACT goes to landfill. Mr Ware said the aim was to get that down to 10 per cent by 2025.
The Environment Protection and Heritage Council's National Waste Report 2010 found the ACT was one of the highest generators of waste per capita in Australia.
Over the past 10 years, total waste generation in the ACT had grown at more than 4 per cent a year on average, outstripping population growth.
Last financial year, the ACT generated almost 1.069 million tonnes of waste, with 317,842 tonnes sent to landfill.
The overall waste recovery rate of just over 70 per cent was down from 75 per cent the year before.
More waste went to landfill in 2011-12 partly because of the clean-up of a failed waste recycling company that generated an extra 54,114 tonnes to landfill.
Last financial year showed a recycling rate of 92 per cent of all material collected, with more than 58,000 tonnes of waste sent for recycling.
The ACT also became the first jurisdiction in Australia to implement a free electronic waste recycling service as part of the new National Television and Computer Recycling Scheme. Mr Ware said to the end of September, 1550 tonnes of e-waste had been collected in Canberra through that scheme.
■ For more information or to provide feedback on the expanded tip, contact consultants Purdon Associates on 6257 1511 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Feedback closes at 5pm on December 7. Displays on the project will be at the Erindale, Westfield Woden and Chisholm shopping centres over coming weeks.