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Tip Top Tip - the Kimbriki story

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Pauline Curby outlines the history of Kimbriki Tip and how it has managed to make itself commercially viable and a best practice waste management centre.

Kimbriki Tip, located in Terrey Hills in Sydney’s northern beaches, has a fascinating history. Although not very old it nevertheless shows some important environmental lessons and is now the only council-run local tip in Sydney.

Left: Kimbriki, with the tip face under close supervision, 2002
Courtesy of Kimbriki Recycling and Waste Disposal Centre

It began operating in 1974 to serve four council areas – Mosman, Manly Pittwater and Warringah. The site seemed perfect. It had a deep valley, road access and low visibility. It did, however, border a national park but that was not a big issue in the 1970s for the people who chose the site, despite the protests. Kimbriki was intended to be a dry rubbish tip – no food waste – but there were still lots of green waste, car batteries and dead animals being dumped.

1977 proved to be a big year in Kimbriki’s history. It was formally licensed and underwent an inspection from the State Pollution and Control Commission.
The inspection found that leachate was polluting Deep Creek, a tributary of Narrabeen Lagoon. Leachate, water carrying impurities which has percolated through the earth, is a pretty nasty brew and highly polluting. The tip managers, a joint services committee of the four councils, had to implement leachate control. These controls improved the situation considerably by 1988 and today it is quite secure.

Kimbriki became a very big business and in 1980 was dubbed the Rolls Royce of tips. Commercial operators were filling the tip quickly with building rubble and paying very little to do so. They came in their droves and when the Joint Service Committee decided to charge a commercial rate quite an intense political battle ensued. Building developers began putting pressure on councillors to keep the charges low but the committee won out in the end and Kimbriki started to make a profit.


Kimbriki came
under pressure again when all round Sydney council tips filled up and closed. It was mooted that Kimbriki could take waste from other areas so in the 1990s the managers decided to rethink how they would operate. They went with the idea of recycling, making sure that most of what was brought in was reused instead of adding to the landfill.



Garden waste was turned into mulch and sold and tiles were turned into garden paths. It was a huge success. Landfill dropped from 234 tons in 1990/91 to just 36.9 tons ten years later and the tip is forecast to be still operating in 60 years.


Kimbriki has also established an ecogarden using all manner of recycled materials. The garden is an inspiration for anyone wanting to garden in an environmentally sensitive way as well as using recycled materials creatively and effectively.
Kimbriki is a unique Sydney site – I’ll give you the tip.

Text: V.B.
Images: Courtesy of Kimbriki Recycling and Waste Disposal Centre.

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