Our sustainable choices
Climate Change Policy
We adopted the Cessnock Climate Change Policy in May 2020. The Policy makes clear our position on climate change and outlines a number of commitments, including our commitment to achieve Net Zero corporate emissions by 2050. A dedicated team of Council officers are part of an internal working group to ensure the implementation of the Policy.
We're making exciting progress with staff now working to undertake a risk assessment to identify risks that climate change poses to our assets and services. The completed risk assessment will inform the development of a Climate Action Plan. The Plan will set out our actions for achieving emission reduction targets and for mitigation and adapting to the effects of climate change.
Cities Power Partnership
We've joined the Cities Power Partnership and made the following pledges:
- install renewable energy (solar PV and battery storage) on our buildings
- support cycling through provision of adequate cycle lanes, bike parking and end-of-ride facilities
- actively participate in the development of a regional electric vehicle strategy
- open unused Council managed land for renewable energy
- roll out energy efficient lighting across the municipality
The Cities Power Partnership is a coalition of councils from across Australia working together to reduce their emissions. For more information visit Cities Power Partnership.
Reducing our emissions
Our Energy Efficiency Program commenced 2017 with the aim to reduce electricity consumption in our nine largest consuming sites. These are responsible for 35% of Councils total consumption. Check out some of the progress we've made to reduce our emissions.
We’ve removed old fluorescent lighting replacing it with LED lights in our Administration Building, Works Depot, Cessnock Performing Arts Centre, Cessnock Library, Hunter Valley Visitor Information Centre and the Cessnock Airport. The retrofit lighting cost a total of $134,083 but within two and a half years we've recovered this cost through electricity savings. All savings made are reinvested into Energy Efficiency Program.
We've got seven facilities with solar panels. These include:
- Works Depot- 20kW
- Cessnock Waste Management Centre - 25kW
- Branxton Community Hall - 11 kW
- North End Hall - 6kW
- Hunter Valley Visitor Information Centre - 26.62kW
- Cessnock Library - 29.52 kw
- Administration Building -97.58kW
Since turning the solar on at the Hunter Valley Tourist Information Centre, Cessnock Library and our Administration Building it's been a huge success. A a combined total of 58.5 Megawatt hours of electricity has been generated as of 19 August 2021. We've used 81% of this on site and exported 19% to the grid.
Even in winter the solar panels installed most recently at the Hunter Valley Tourist Information Centre, Cessnock Library and our Administration Building are doing an amazing job! In fact, since they were switched on in March they have generated a combined total of 58.5 megawatt hours and amazingly we’ve not only powered ourselves, during some parts of the day, but exported 19% to the grid. Put simply, we’re generating more power then we need in the middle of the day and giving back.
For the Administration Building alone, we're expecting to save $12,000 per year on our electricity bill. All savings made will cover the cost of the installation and be invested into future energy saving projects.
Streetlighting accounts for 51% of Council’s total electricity consumption. Our Streetlighting Replacement Program, saw over 2,000 old inefficient streetlights replaced with LED lights on residential roads.
Over the last two years we've decreased electricity usage by 23%. This drop in consumption includes the continual growth in additional streetlights for new subdivisions.
We're also working with out five neigbouring councils to enter into an improved electricity supply contract (a Power Purchase Agreement) from January 2022. The goal is to source renewable electricity for all streetlights.
We purchased our first fully electric vehicle in May 2021, a Hyundai Kona Highlander as a trial and we're extremely pleased with the results. The car is recharged at the Administration Building from the solar panels and has a range of 300kms. It's cheaper to service and utilises regenerative braking that captures kinetic energy when coasting and braking helping to increase driving range and increase energy efficiency. We look forward to transitioning to electrical vehicles in the future.
Waste management and resource recovery
Our Waste and Resource Recovery Strategy 2020-25 aligns with the NSW and Regional Waste and Resource Recovery Targets for municipal waste. The shared targets are:
- Reduce total waste generated by 10% per person by 2030
- Have an 80% average recovery rate from all waste streams by 2030
- Significantly increase the use of recycled content by governments and industry
- Halve the amount of organic waste sent to landfill by 2030
Find out what we've been doing to achieve these targets.
We're working hard to divert waste from our landfill. We want to share some of our communities achievements from 2020-21:
- 39% diversion of waste from kerbside collection. On average each house collected 13.3kg of waste per week, 5.7kg of recycling per fortnight and 11.7kg of garden organics per fortnight
- 29% diversion from landfill at Cessnock Waste Management Centre and in the last year the Centre separated and recycled:
- 164.18 tonnes cardboard
- 68 tonnes electronic waste
- 1,822 tonnes metal
- 1,357 mattresses
- 90 tonnes of problem waste
- 28 tonnes of tyres
- 1,641 tonnes garden organics
- free drop-off events saw an additional 1,797 mattresses and 11.5 tonnes of problem waste diverted from landfill and sent for recycling
Let's keep up the good work Cessnock!
Our Garden Organics Program
The garden organics service is contracted to Solo Resource Recovery and Australian Native Landscapes. The material collected in your garden organics bin is processed at Tea Gardens, where it's made into a high quality compost for use by home gardeners and farmers.
Since the introduction of the service we've been able to share the compost in our community in a variety of ways. These include:
- Garden makeover for Millfield Public School
- Garden makeover for Natural Steps Preschool
- compost giveaways with 19 events over the last four years providing a total of 2,500 bags of compost
- compost to help Mulbring Landcare and Kurri Kurri Community gardens flourish
- compost to use on local sports fields as top dressing including at Basin, Mount View (Cessnock Minor Rugby League no. 3 training field) and Turner Park, Cessnock (Hornets Soccer main ground)
Exciting data we wanted to share:
- 24,101 tonnes (March 2017- June 2021) has been collected since commencing the kerbside collection of garden organics
- 4,567 tonnes ( July 2017 – June 2021) received at Cessnock Waste Management Centre has been diverted from landfill and reprocessed
Our move to Food and Garden Organics (FOGO)
Food and Garden Organics (FOGO) collection will start in March 2024. Recent waste bin audits show that food waste makes up 26% of bin contents (measured by weight). This is an average of 3.4kg per bin, per week.
After one year, this amounts to an estimated 4,100 tonnes of food going to landfill. We can't wait to roll out this service that will help us divert more waste from landfill.
Waste Avengers Blog
Have you checked out our Waste Avengers Blog? It's about making waste avoidance easier for us mere mortals through the sharing of personal stories and videos. Content is predominantly local, with blog posts from varied perspectives.
Community education - sustainability and biodiversity
Clean up Australia Day
Each year we get involved in Clean up Australia Day.
In March 2021 there were 10 community sites, 11 schools and three youth groups removing 20.58 tonnes of litter and illegal dumping.
Join us next year. Keep an eye on our events section.
In our schools
We celebrate World Environment Day on the 5 June with a Native Tree Plant Giveaway and Compost Giveaway for local schools
Our School Environment Grants in 2021 were awarded to 4 preschools ($200 each) and 10 primary schools ($500 each). These open in February every year.
Keep an eye on our School Programs section for more details.
Our Bushland Campaign
The Our Bushland campaign has been developed to raise awareness about local bushland and its importance to local species. We're sharing a series of videos celebrating our local bushland. View them here.
In April and May we held four community biodiversity walks. These were led by trained ecologists sharing the knowledge about local bushland and the animals that call it home. We hope to bring you some more of these popular events soon. Keep an eye on our events page for upcoming events.
This campaign has been made possible by funding from the NSW Government through its Environmental Trust.
Sustainability talks and workshops
Our libraries frequently host sustainability talks covering topics about avoiding food waste, rethinking your wardrobe, recycling and native wildlife in your backyard.
In fact earlier this year we held six different events. Keep an eye on our events page for upcoming events.
Scan, swap, drink, return. Green Caffeen is a FREE reusable coffee cup system for eco-focused cafes and coffee lovers across Australia.Cafes love it, coffee drinkers dig it and the planet high fives you for it.
Five local businesses registered in the Cessnock Local Government Area with 205 customers using and an estimated 1,362 single use cups saved.