Managing and Securing Unattended Waste Transfer Stations with Resident Access Control – Banana Shire Council 

 

Overview

Banana Shire Council shared the journey towards improving the management and security of their unattended waste transfer stations at the 2021 Coffs Harbour Waste Conference.  

Despite the name, the Banana Shire doesn’t grow Bananas. It was named after a 19th century bull called ‘Banana’. Located in Central Queensland with a population of 14,456 spread across 28,577 square kilometres, Banana Shire has a sparse population spread over a large landmass.  

Banana Shire has 10 waste transfer stations, 7 of which are unattended with approximately 50% of the shire’s total waste deposited at these unattended facilities. They are currently utilising Mandalay’s Resident Access Control product at their Wowan transfer station.  

The Situation

At Banana Shire’s unattended waste transfer stations, gates are open 24 hours a day with no security. After experiencing a significant amount of illegal dumping at these facilities costing council between $240,000 to $270,000 per year to clean up the mess, Banana Shire Council needed a solution.  

40% of waste taken to the transfer stations within Banana Shire comes from outside of the shire as many of these transfer stations are located close to the council borders. Some people even travel up to 3 hours to dump their waste at these transfer stations and they dump a variety of hazardous materials such as asbestos, oil and tyres. Both commercial and domestic users dump at these sites 24 hours per day. 

To overcome this illegal dumping problem, the Banana Shire Council waste team approached Mandalay and took part in a workshop to look at potential solutions for their unsecured and remote waste transfer stations. 

Requirements

Banana Shire Council required Mandalay to develop an automated security access interface that could keep their unattended sites secure while also retaining data collection and analysis abilities.  

For authorised access to be given to the right people, increasingly personalised profiles of residents needed to be built out by property and relationship that acknowledged multiple stakeholders of properties as well as the difference between ratepayers, residents and businesses.  

The hardware requirements for the remote site interface included: 

  • A keypad to enter and exit the site that is vandal-proof, commercial-grade, and not reliant on residents to bring hardware in order to use it.  
  • Cameras – A fixed camera that faces the inbound keypad unit. The camera captures an image when the keypad is used.

The Challenges

Illegal Dumping – The primary challenge was overcoming the illegal dumping due to the lack of adequate security and controls in place at the unattended waste transfer stations. This caused them to be at the mercy of commercial operators and residents who have unlimited and unrestricted access to waste disposal.  

Unauthorised Facility Use – Commercial operators and residents from outside of Banana Shire can access these waste transfer stations without authority 24 hours per day and the council has no control over them.  

No ability to manage or account without data – The demand for accountability has increased with legislation, however, Banana Shire Council was unable to accurately report on waste data deposited at its waste transfer stations. They had to consider all waste to be commercial which resulted in no rebate on domestic deposition.  

Businesses think all waste disposal is free – Disposing of domestic waste at transfer stations is free which has resulted in many commercial operators expecting that the deposition of waste is free for them also and therefore feel they are entitled to it.  

Poor Security – Due to the remoteness of the locations, measures needed to be put in place to prevent scavenging, theft and vandalism during construction and operations. There is also a lack of lighting at night and reliable HD camera coverage was needed to help guarantee safe sites. 

The Solution 

The solution developed for Banana Shire Council was a fully automated and unattended control station with secure passcode access for approved residents (Resident Access Control). The control station and keypad used to give residents access to the site and to keep the automated site up and running is extremely durable with protection from rain, dust, extreme weather, and high temperatures. Automated cantilever security gates, fencing and 24-hour camera surveillance is also included to prevent illegal dumping. 

The waste transfer station located in the small community of Wowan was the first site they chose to run a trial before rolling out the solution shire-wide. Banana Shire Council engaged with the community on how they could deliver this trial. In the end, they provided a generic access code to community members for the trial period before developing a complete secure passcode access system once fully implemented.  

Secure Passcode Access System 

Approved residents gain access to the site by entering their unique pin into a keypad located at the facility gate. The same pin is used to exit the facility. Each person gets their own individual pin which is a combination of their unique payer code on their rates notice and an electoral number. These two numbers are combined to create a unique 5-digit pin. Each user who has a unique pin for their property is assigned their own area/dumpsite that they can use to dump their waste.  

The Benefits

Track activity and users If illegal activity is detected, Banana Shire Council can now trace back via the Mandalay system to see who has entered the site. Those people can be verified by their unique pin, fixed cameras footage and 360-degree motion detection camera footage for the same time period. Council can instantly see the time, vehicle and activity associated with that person while using the site.  

Positive community feedback – Community sentiment has been positive towards the change with the consensus being ‘we’ve got the facility back and it’s ours’. Residents now hold a sense of ownership over their sites.  

Control over sites – Council has complete control over who enters and leaves the site along with the hours of operation. 

Ratepayers/renters only – Only approved residents gain access with their unique codes. 

Safe and Secure sites – Approved residents simply put their pin in to open the gate as they enter and exit the site while the fence and safety gate keeps unauthorised people out.  

Minimal illegal dumping – Each time a user comes in and out, the vehicle number plate is recorded. Each failed attempt at entering the facility is also captured on photo and recorded, significantly reducing instances of illegal dumping. 

Significantly reduced contamination – Having measures in place to prevent illegal dumping reduces contamination, particularly asbestos if it’s mixed with green waste.  

Auditable – The auditability of transfer station operations with Resident Access Control makes life a lot easier for council. 

The Outcome

The Wowan transfer station trial was a success. This initial trial provided council with valuable community feedback and gave them opportunities to implement further process improvements.  

Banana Shire Council is now beginning to roll out this solution across their other 6 sites with the hopes they will all be operational in the near future. 

With the additional insights and analytics gained through the Resident Access Control passcode system, Banana Shire Council is now able to develop waste profiles of users. This can then be used to effectively communicate the behaviour undertaken by users for every site to the local community.   

They are able to identify prohibited dumping, vandalism and scavenging with ease. Hours of operation have also been reduced from 24hrs to between 6 am to 6 pm so that the site is only operating during daylight hours for safety reasons. 

Banana Shire Council believes that automating access to all transfer sites will reduce waste by 40% as the majority of dumping came from outside the shire prior to automation. This in turn will increase the life of their current landfill facilities. 

 

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