The proposal for a recycling facility in Yass that would make money by saving items from landfill may be thrown out after the council said it received zero interest from the community.
However, a Yass resident who was interested in running the facility, Al Phemister, said he could not find the expression of interest (EOI) advertisement.
Yass Valley Council said it called for expressions of interest from the local community and not-for-profit groups between May and June.
However, Mr Phemister said he was prompted to contact the council for information after hearing nothing by late June.
“I had asked to receive a copy when the director of engineering Stan Robb was at the council but he had left when the EOI came out. I sent an email to the council’s general manager, Chris Berry, asking for the EOI and the next day I got the information but it was closing in a week,” Mr Phemister said.
Mr Berry said the EOI was advertised through Tenderlink, a web-based procurement network.
“It’s a platform that’s sent out to anyone who has subscribed and it allows the integrity of the procurement process to be preserved. Most government agencies now use something like Tenderlink,” he said.
Mr Berry said the council also directly notified the locals it knew were interested in operating the facility.
However, he also said the Tenderlink process may have been daunting for anyone who had not used it before but if so, they could have contacted the council for assistance.
Mr Berry said he also wondered if previously interested parties had crunched the numbers and realised running the facility wasn’t viable.
“I would have expected some community organisations already involved in this to put an expression of interest in. Maybe they didn’t because they’re already stretched or because of the uncertainty around the recycling industry,” he said.
Mr Phemister hoped to run the facility as a business but said he was precluded from applying as the EOI only stipulated community and not-for-profit groups.
He said he didn’t think it was realistic for a charity or group of volunteers to run the facility.
However, Mr Berry told the Yass Valley Times it wasn’t totally out of the question for a business to run the facility.
“I know the recycling collection in the Goulburn-Mulwaree local government area is run by a not-for-profit organisation. They make a sufficient amount to cover the cost of their workers and they’ve got a market they can sell their recyclable material to. The difference between a business and not-for-profit isn’t great, just one is looking for a return on their investment and the other is looking to cover their costs,” he said.
Mr Phemister wondered if the council was fully supportive of the facility given the lack of advertisement of the EOI and limit on who could apply.
“One of the big issues the council has with this is the cost, but doing nothing is costing money because the council is paying for everything to go into landfill. To set up something like this will cost money but it is a short-term cost for long-term savings,” he said.
At the ordinary council meeting on July 22, councillors voted on a recommendation to further consider the facility at a workshop.
“The purpose of the workshop is to see if we got the EOI advertisement right; if there is anything we could do differently; and if we should do the EOI again,” Mr Berry said.
Funding of $120,000 was provided in the capital works budget 2020/21 for the construction of the facility adjacent to Yass Transfer Station on Faulder Avenue.
Mr Phemister said he and several community members would start a petition to demonstrate the community desire for the facility.