THE City of Greater Bendigo could go to tender by December with ambitious plans to close its last remaining rubbish dump.
The plan comes after the council won regulatory permission from the Environmental Protection Authority for $9 million worth of works to cap the Eaglehawk Landfill.
The clock is ticking to rehabilitate the site, which is expected to run out of space by the 2022/23 financial year.
Bendigo's council is already carting up to 30,000 tonnes of rubbish a year to a landfill in the state's north to try and extend the life of the Eaglehawk tip.
The council is close to opening a tender process for the works, the Bendigo Advertiser can reveal.
Exact prices are yet to be confirmed and could depend on the outcome of the tender, though the council is anticipating it to be $8.9 million including "aftercare" costs to maintain the site, such as monitoring buildups of flammable gasses underground.
The council has long ruled out building a replacement for the Eaglehawk Landfill.
It used a 2014 waste management policy to describe the city's efforts to minimise waste going to landfill as "close to the worst in the state for many years".
Closing the landfill would be the latest in a series of projects to reverse that problem, including organic kerbside collections, bigger recycling bins and a series of public awareness campaigns.
The council is using a separate tender process to figure out how it could deal with all the waste that will still be produced after the closure.
It closed off expressions of interest last September for businesses and other groups to create a "circular economy" reusing or re-manufacturing central Victoria's waste.
Forty businesses and community groups applied to be part of the push.
Successful applicants will be shortlisted for a closed tender process to lead efforts dealing with the city's waste, according to tender documents.
The council is yet to lock in money to fund the closure of the Eaglehawk Landfill but has been putting funds aside for a long time.
That includes $2.2 million that could be used on 10 current and former landfill sites in the Greater Bendigo area, which was flagged in the council's recently-released annual report.
The council's director of corporate performance Andrew Cooney said the millions already set aside were not yet earmarked for specific projects.
But he said they had been "quarantined" to help grapple with the massive one-off costs associated with landfills at key stages, including when they close.
"It doesn't happen very often, so you need to set it aside for when you need it," Mr Cooney said.
The funds are topped up every year at Bendigo and many other Victorian councils specifically for landfill costs and compliance.
"We know that we are going to have a bill at Eaglehawk one day, and it's going to be pretty substantial, if you think about the size of that facility," Mr Cooney said.
"It's a very well-maintained site now but one day when we stop using it as a landfill ... there will be works needed to make it safe ... and clean it up."