Singleton's sustainable action celebrated with major environment award

Published on 19 November 2021

Singleton is “punching above its weight” in its approach to sustainability, after taking out the Innovation in Planning, Policies and Decision-Making Award (Division A – for councils with a population less than 30,000) in the Local Government NSW - Excellence in the Environment Awards 2021 this week.

Held annually, the Awards recognise outstanding achievements by NSW councils in managing and protecting the environment.

Singleton Council was recognised for its Sustainable Future Project, a two-pronged program of investment and engagement in the local implementation of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals and comprising the community-based Singleton Sustainability Strategy 2019-2027 (endorsed last year) and a Council-based Sustainable Future Statement.

The Award was presented in the same week Council’s State of the Environment Report was endorsed as part of the Annual Report 2020/2021, which showcases a long list of achievements including a 31 per cent reduction in Council electricity usage, 29 per cent reduction in Council’s greenhouse gas emissions, and a more than doubling of Council’s use of renewable energy.

General Manager Jason Linnane said these outcomes, as well as the Local Government NSW - Excellence in the Environment Awards 2021, reflected a substantial shift in Council’s organisational approach to sustainability with a course of actions to lead by example.

“In making the management of our impact a key consideration in our decision-making across the whole of our business, from sustainable procurement to paperless planning, we are committed not only to setting the standard but upholding it,” he said.

“We know that sustainability is important to our community, because our residents and businesses have told us in a range of forums.

“Starting with the Sustainability Strategy as an important resource for the long-term, providing clear direction in promoting, facilitating and supporting our community in social, economic and environmental sustainability, we’re going a step further to be a shining example of what we can all do to achieve our goals.

“And in addition to the environmental benefits, there’s also savings for our budget moving forward to the tune of more than $250,000 a year with the installation of solar panels and purchase of additional green power. So it just makes sense.”

Results include:

  • 31 per cent reduction in Council’s electricity usage, corresponding to a 29 per cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions between 2019/2020 and 2020/2021
  • water savings including over 15ML of drinking water through a water reuse project implemented at the Singleton Sewerage Treatment Plant and hundreds of thousands of litres of water each year with the implementation of an app-based watering system for parks and fields
  • installation of 14,000 recycled soft plastic pickets at Howe Park, made with plastic bags recycled from the community
  • donation of used pavers from the Town Centre Upgrade – Stage 2 to community groups including charities, churches and not-for-profits, saving over 130 tonnes of waste from landfill

“And we know our community is acting alongside us: one in five homes in Singleton has solar panels, there has been an 18 per cent reduction in residential water usage between 2019/2020 and 2020/2021, a 43 per cent increase in garden organics recycled between 2019/2020 and 2020/2021, and an increasing trend in revitalisation of heritage items across our local government area,” Mr Linnane said.

“These results, and recognition by the Excellence in the Environment Awards, reinforces the hard work of a lot of people in our organisation and our community to arrive at this point.

“But the most exciting thing is that we’re only just starting on our sustainability journey, and we’re already punching above our weight. Best of all, we’ve also identified key performance indicators that will allow us to continue to report our performance well into the future, delivering on our community’s needs now and for generations to come.”