Council is committed to reducing the environmental footprint of its operations.
This commitment is delivered through a comprehensive suite of existing environmental management programs and policies, standard operating procedures and protocols, key performance indicators and reporting.
Tweed Shire Council Environmental Sustainability Prioritisation Strategy
Council has adopted an Environmental Sustainability Prioritisation Strategy to improve the way we protect the natural environment and reduce Council's environmental footprint.
The Strategy focuses on getting Council's own 'house in order' by describing:
- a series of environmental sustainability principles that we use to guide our actions and decision making;
- a set of project prioritisation criteria to evaluate and rank projects based on the extent to which they support ecological sustainable development principles; and
- the lead actions that Council will pursue between 2015 and 2020 to build on its existing and ongoing environmental sustainability activities.
Download the Strategy from the sidebar for further details.
Recycled Bench Seat
Sustainable procurement refers to the purchase of goods or services that have a lesser or reduced affect on human health and the environment when compared with competing products or services that serve the same purpose. Such products or services may include, but are not limited to, those which contain recycled content, minimise waste, conserve energy or water, and reduce the amount of toxics disposed or consumed.
Through our Environmental Management System, Council is progressively implementing a range of initiatives to reduce the environmental impact of its purchasing decisions. Examples of sustainable procurement initiatives include the use of recycled plastic products for park and street furniture, recycled office paper, low toxicity office stationary products, green cleaners and water/energy efficiency standards for white-goods and tap-ware.
Council’s Environmental Performance Schedule (57kB PDF)
includes the criteria for purchases greater than $50,000. The Sustainable Products List (31kB PDF)
includes the minimum standards for a range of energy and/or water consuming products.
Council Electrician Installing Energy Efficicient Lighting in the Council Chambers
Council’s public facilities (e.g. swimming pools, art gallery, museums etc) are responsible for approximately 15 per cent of the organisation's greenhouse gas emissions. Efforts to reduce impacts include the following:
In 2008 Council developed a set of Environmental Design Guidelines for new council facilities. Features of the guidelines include requirements for energy and water efficiency, waste minimisation, the use of local natives for landscaping and design that reduces reliance on the motor vehicle for facility access. For further information please see Environmental Design Guidelines for TSC Facilities (57kB PDF)
Council's existing facilities are being progressively improved to reduce their environmental footprint, with a specific focus on energy and water efficiency, waste management and walking and cycling access.
Recent improvements include solar heating for the Kingscliff and Tweed Pools, waterless urinals at the South Tweed HACC Centre and solar lighting for the Murwillumbah Auditorium carpark.
If you have a suggestion on how your local facilities can be improved, please contact Council's Sustainability Program Leader on 02 6670 2555 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Revolving Energy Fund In 2000, Council installed energy efficient lighting in its main office in Murwillumbah. This initiative cut the annual lighting bill by more than 50%. At the completion of the project Council decided that savings made from energy efficiency initiatives such as this should be set aside to fund additional energy efficiency initiatives and the Revolving Energy Fund (REF) was established as a result.
The REF is now an integral part of Council’s energy efficiency and greenhouse gas reduction program for existing infrastructure.
Initiatives implemented under the REF (e.g. solar heating for swimming pools, energy efficient lighting retrofits, power factor correction systems) have reduced local greenhouse gas emissions by approximately 600 tonnes of C02 each year.
Solid Waste Management
Until recent times, landfill gas (i.e. methane) has been responsible for approximately 21 per cent of Council’s greenhouse gas emissions. Efforts to reduce impacts include the following.
Food scraps and garden waste rot in landfills to produce methane, a greenhouse gas twenty-two times more harmful than carbon dioxide (i.e. one tonne of methane emissions equals 22 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions).
In February 2005 Tweed Shire Council and Landfill Management Systems completed the last stage of a methane co-generation facility at the Stotts Creek Landfill. Methane is harvested from rubbish in the landfill and burnt to produce electricity. Approximately 300 kilowatts is supplied into the national electricity grid every hour, which is enough to power about 400 homes.
Harvesting methane from the Stotts Landfill prevents an average of 10,000 tonnes of CO2
(equivalent) from entering the atmosphere each year. This is equivalent to the annual emissions of 2000 cars.
Kerbside Green-waste Collection
In 2005 Council established a domestic green waste collection service in response to the issue of green waste being disposed of via the kerbside waste collection service. Green waste bins are collected fortnightly and the contents is mulched and made available for use by the community.
Any green-waste brought to local waste management facilities is diverted from the landfill, mulched and made available for use by the community.
Refill not Landfill
Bottled water costs the earth. It’s more than 1,000 times more expensive than tap water and 200ml of oil is required to create and transport a one-litre bottle from factory to customer. Add the problem of empty bottle disposal and you’ve got a serious environmental issue on your hands. But what’s the alternative when you’re thirsty and your personal water bottle has run dry? Public drink stations of course. Tweed Shire Council provides drink fountains and taps in high pedestrian areas so you can quench your thirst in a way that doesn’t cost the earth.
Compost Bins and Worm Farms
Council encourages household composting and worm farming as a way of reducing putrescibles ending up in landfill. Discounted compost bins and worm farms are available from Council offices and are often supplied to schools for waste education and gardening initiatives.
For further information please see Composting and Worm Farms
As part of our ongoing commitment to energy efficiency and greenhouse gas reduction, Council has nearly halved the energy consumption and associated greenhouse gas emissions from the streetlight network. These results have been achieved by replacing nearly 4000 energy-hungry lights with more efficient technology.
Delivered in partnership with Essential Energy, the energy-efficient streetlight upgrade has reduced greenhouse gas emissions by more than 1000 tonnes of carbon dioxide per year while saving $270,000 in annual operating costs.
The Tweed’s streetlight network consists of more than 5000 lights. The upgrade focused on the shire’s 3888 mercury vapour lamps, replacing these with a combination of compact fluorescent and high pressure sodium lamps. While the new lamps produce a similar light output to those they replaced, they consume far less energy.
It is current practice for Council to specify energy efficient lighting for new subdivisions, however the majority of the Tweed’s current street lighting in older neighbourhoods was previously not considered energy efficient in terms of the available new technologies.
Council’s vehicle fleet is responsible for approximately 10 per cent of the organisation's greenhouse gas emissions. Efforts to reduce impacts include the following:
In 2008 Council introduced a bicycle fleet into its operations to reduce local greenhouse gas emissions, provide leadership to the community, demonstrate the benefits of bikes for corporate travel and increase staff opportunities for healthy active transport. Staff can access bicycles at from the main office, depot and wastewater treatment plants.
4 Cyclinder Vehicles
Passenger Vehicle Fleet
In 2006 Council amended its lease-back agreement for passenger vehicles to encourage vehicle downsizing (i.e. smaller, more fuel efficient cars). Small and mid-sized vehicle options were improved and cheaper lease fees were established for these cars when compared to the traditional ‘company car’. Diesel passenger vehicles were also listed as an option for lease-back vehicles.
This initiative has proven to be very successful with more than 90 per cent of staff with lease-back vehicles choosing to downsize their vehicle and has been complimented by the decision of Council’s executive staff to downsize their own vehicles.
Hybrid Electric Car
In 2005 Council purchased a mid-sized hybrid fuel sedan for use within Council’s passenger vehicle fleet. The initiative sought to provide community leadership on reducing transport related greenhouse gas emissions while ‘testing the water’ on the suitability of hybrid vehicles in a non-metropolitan setting (e.g. servicing down time).
The performance of the vehicle exceeded expectations and proved very popular with staff. A second hybrid vehicle was purchased in 2007, followed by a third in 2008. In 2009, hybrid vehicles were added to the lease-back vehicles list.
Water and Sewer Services
Energy consumption associated with the treatment and transport of town water and wastewater is responsible for approximately 44 per cent of Council’s greenhouse gas emissions.
Efforts to reduce these impacts are focused on the delivery of initiatives in Council’s Energy Savings Action Plan and identifying opportunities for renewable energy generation at these facilities. Example actions include energy efficient pumps and motors, reducing peak load consumption by pumping in off-peak times and designing networks to maximise the use of gravity for water and wastewater delivery.