APY Lands: waste management

First posted on 30 July 2009 under APY Lands.
This article has been updated and archived.
Tags: waste managment

Summary

dumpsignIn 2006, State and Federal Government agencies agreed to jointly fund the development of a regional waste management plan for the APY Lands.[i]

As part of this process, $600,000 of “waste management and resource recovery trials” were conducted in APY communities during 2009 and 2010.[ii]

The project’s final report – released in November 2011 – highlights “a number of immediate environmental risks” and other “legacy issues”.[iii]

The report includes an implementation plan and 72 recommendations. Implementation costs are estimated at $5 million in capital funding, plus an additional $2.4 million annual operating budget.[iv]

The Paper Trail

Background

The proper management of hard and hazardous waste items presents a significant and ongoing challenge for remote Aboriginal communities. Economies of scale make it difficult for communities to establish facilities that can compact waste, recycle scrap metal and other items and/or deal with the challenge of removing used engine oil.[v]

In 1988, a major review of the APY Lands reported:

Apart from the spasmodic timing of garbage collection, the principal concerns raised by [Anangu] councils [were] their lack of suitable equipment to remove and bury car bodies, and to construct and backfill proper garbage trenches. Obviously each council does not have sufficient justification to own and operate such equipment for this work and in the circumstances access to a central pool of equipment would seem appropriate.[vi]

Cultural change and associated issues can also create significant waste management challenges.[vii] In 1987, the report of an environmental and public health review of the APY Lands concluded that solving the issue of hard waste disposal and management would require “a major change of habit for Anangu.”[viii]

The report continued:

Traditionally Anangu were a throw-away society. Traditionally, objects that [were] discarded… [were] all biodegradable. Now most of the objects Anangu use – e.g. tins, paper, plastic and cars – need to be properly
disposed of.[ix]

To that end, in the early 1990s, KESAB launched a Palya Clean Communities Competition. The then Minister for Aboriginal Affairs (Hon Mike Rann MP) noted that the competition was “similar to the annual Tidy Town competition” and would “help people look at new ways of improving their surroundings.”[x] He continued:

It is difficult to teach children hygiene and encourage healthy lifestyles if their environment lacks basic cleanliness … Loose rubbish and litter has always been a serious problem in outback areas … While many communities really try to keep their environment clean and tidy, isolated desert areas do not have the garbage and clean-up services which urban people take for granted.[xi]

A new, consolidated approach

In 2005, State Government agencies visited the APY Lands “to investigate the barriers and opportunities for used oil recovery in remote Indigenous communities.” As a result, approximately 35,000 litres of used oil were removed.[xii]

The visit also identified “other environmental issues associated with waste management” and led to the removal of 1500 car bodies.[xiii]

In 2006, Zero Waste SA and the Federal Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs (FaHCSIA) agreed to jointly fund the development of a regional waste management and implementation plan for the APY Lands. The aim of the plan was to:

  • reduce waste generation,
  • encourage waste minimisation,
  • prolong landfill life, and
  • create employment and training opportunities for APY residents.[xiv]

Under the leadership of the State Government’s Aboriginal Affairs and Reconciliation Division (AARD), a draft plan gradually developed. This process involved “extensive engagement with stakeholders including the APY Lands community, relevant state government departments, and service providers based in Alice Springs.”[xv]

An interim waste management report, including an implementation plan, was completed in during the 2008/09 financial year.[xvi]

Community-based trials

On 21 July 2009, Zero Waste SA advised the Paper Tracker that prior to finalising the waste management report and plan, community-based trials would be conducted.[xvii]

These trials were expected to cost $600,000 and be completed in the 2009/10 financial year.[xviii]

Zero Waste SA also advised that the trials would:

  • “be conducted in each of the major communities on the APY Lands”,
  • “enable a range of measures to be tested and provide increased confidence for future rollout across the whole of the APY Lands,” and
  • help avoid repeating mistakes of the past that had resulted in “the expensive roll out of inappropriate technology and ideas.”[xix]

Zero Waste stated that, in the longer term, a broader rollout of waste management initiatives across the APY Lands would occur “if funding is made available.”[xx]

Final report released (updated 14 November 2011)

On 17 June 2010, Zero Waste SA advised the Paper Tracker that the final waste management report, including an implementation plan, “should be available in August 2010.”[xxi] This timeframe was subsequently extended to November 2010.[xxii]

On 26 May 2011, Zero Waste SA noted that while the consultants had completed the report, the process of having it “professionally edited” had delayed its release. At that time, Zero Waste SA expected to present the report to the July 2011 meeting of the APY Executive Board.[xxiii]

The Paper Tracker received a copy of the report on 7 November 2011.[xxiv]

Key findings, recommendations and funding requirements

The final report – entitled The Rubbish Report - examines “past and current waste collection and disposal practices” on the APY Lands and outlines “a range of options to increase the separation for reuse and recycling of some key materials currently discarded as waste.”[xxv] It also provides:

  • “a framework to improve the management and operation of landfills”, and
  • “an inventory of works required to be undertaken at each landfill site to meet compliance requirements”.[xxvi]

Among other things, the report finds that:

  • “an average Anangu household generates 1.5 tonnes of rubbish per annum compared to just 300kgs from staff housing on the APY Lands”,
  • many landfill sites on the APY Lands do not meet South Australian Environment Protection Authority requirements,
  • $200,000 is needed to clear up “legacy issues… from years of poor practices” in Iwantja, Kaltjiti, Mimili and Pukatja,
  • “remedial action” is required to address “a number of immediate environmental risks” including possible contamination of water supplies in Kalka and Yunyarinyi communities, and
  • “current waste management” practices operate “on very low budgets” and that improvements will require “a commitment for higher levels of operational and capital funding”.[xxvii]

The report contains 72 recommendations requiring:

  • a capital investment of $5 million, over five years, and
  • recurrent funding of $2.4 million per annum.[xxviii]

Click here to download a copy of The Rubbish Report (note large file size: 14MB)

This article was last updated in November 2011. It has been archived and will no longer be updated. It will, however, remain accessible online as a source of background information for anyone wishing to undertake further research on this issue. Information included in the article was current at the time it was archived. Keep in mind, however, that Ministerial changes and names of departments, among other things, may have since changed.


[i] Zero Waste SA. February 2008, Annual Report 2006-2007, p29. Also: Henson, E (Zero Waste SA). 21 July 2009. Email to J. Nicholls.

[ii] See: APC & Davies Consulting. June 2011. The Rubbish Report: Waste Management in the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara Lands (The APY Lands): Past, Present and Future. Also: Henson, E (Zero Waste SA). 21 July 2009. Email to J. Nicholls.

[iii] APC & Davies Consulting. June 2011. The Rubbish Report: Waste Management in the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara Lands (The APY Lands): Past, Present and Future, p13.

[iv] See: APC & Davies Consulting. June 2011. The Rubbish Report: Waste Management in the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara Lands (The APY Lands): Past, Present and Future, p20-21.

[v] Morrow, T. 2002, “Responding to the challenges of waste management,” in Our Place, 19.3, p6-9. (note: Our Place is a publication of the Centre for Appropriate Technology: http://www.icat.org.au/)

[vi] Bonner, N. 1988, Always Anangu: a review of the Pitjantjatjara and Yankunytjatjara Aboriginal communities of Central Australia, p101.

[vii] See, for example, Sheppard, N. 2004, Sojourn on Another Planet, p34-35.

[viii] Nganampa Health Council et al. 1987, Report of Uwankara Palyanyku Wankyintjaku: an environmental and public health review with the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Lands, p59.

[ix] Nganampa Health Council et al. 1987, Report of Uwankara Palyanyku Wankyintjaku: an environmental and public health review with the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Lands, p59.

[x] Rann. M. 16 August 1992, “Clean-up campaign for Pitjantjatjara Lands,” media release.

[xi] Rann. M. 16 August 1992, “Clean-up campaign for Pitjantjatjara Lands,” media release.

[xii] Zero Waste SA. February 2008, Annual Report 2006-2007, p29.

[xiii] Zero Waste SA. February 2008, Annual Report 2006-2007, p29. Also: Zero Waste SA, 2006, “Remote communities clean up,” in rewords: words from zero waste sa, November/December 2006 issue.

[xiv] Zero Waste SA. February 2008, Annual Report 2006-2007, p29. Also: Henson, E (Zero Waste SA). 21 July 2009. Email to J. Nicholls.

[xv] Henson, E (Zero Waste SA). 21 July 2009. Email to J. Nicholls.

[xvi] Henson, E (Zero Waste SA). 21 July 2009. Email to J. Nicholls. Also: Government of South Australia, 2008, “National Packaging Covenant / Mk2 – Action Plan / December 2008 – June 2010,” p7.

[xvii] Henson, E (Zero Waste SA). 21 July 2009. Email to J. Nicholls.

[xviii] On 21 July 2009, Zero Waste SA advised the Paper Tracker that the $600,000 budget was made up of a $500,000 contribution from FaHCSIA and a $100,000 contribution from Zero Waste SA. See: Henson, E (Zero Waste SA). 21 July 2009. Email to J. Nicholls.

[xix] Henson, E (Zero Waste SA). 21 July 2009. Email to J. Nicholls.

[xx] Henson, E (Zero Waste SA). 21 July 2009. Email to J. Nicholls.

[xxi] Henson, E (Zero Waste SA). 17 June 2010. Email to J. Nicholls.

[xxii] Henson, E (Zero Waste SA). 31 August 2010. Email to J. Nicholls.

[xxiii] Henson, E (Zero Waste SA). 26 May 2011. Email to J. Nicholls.

[xxiv] Henson, E (Zero Waste SA). 7 November 2011. Email to J. Nicholls.

[xxv] APC & Davies Consulting. June 2011. The Rubbish Report: Waste Management in the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara Lands (The APY Lands): Past, Present and Future, p11.

[xxvi] APC & Davies Consulting. June 2011. The Rubbish Report: Waste Management in the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara Lands (The APY Lands): Past, Present and Future, p11.

[xxvii] APC & Davies Consulting. June 2011. The Rubbish Report: Waste Management in the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara Lands (The APY Lands): Past, Present and Future, p13, p15, p16 & p19.

[xxviii] APC & Davies Consulting. June 2011. The Rubbish Report: Waste Management in the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara Lands (The APY Lands): Past, Present and Future, p20-21.

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