The Palaszczuk Government has pledged to work with councils and industry on a zero-waste future following Ipswich City Council’s announcement it would start dumping recycling in landfill.
It says it will bring forward the waste levy, incentivise the recycling industry to scale up and encourage waste-to-energy enterprises to set up in Queensland.
Environment Minister Leeanne Enoch said that changes to imports by China, the biggest destination for recycled materials from Australia, had impacted on local councils.
“The Palaszczuk Government supports initiatives on recycling and waste recovery, and is committed to exploring more innovative ways to use waste,” Ms Enoch said.
“That’s why we are currently designing a comprehensive waste management strategy, alongside the waste levy, to encourage investment and innovation in the industry.
“Our strategy will allow us to build a diverse and sustainable waste management industry that delivers long-term value to our environment, new jobs for our communities and confidence to invest in Queensland.”
Local Government Association of Queensland chief executive officer Greg Hallam welcomed the State Government move.
“Local councils across Queensland are hurting, and we will work quickly and collaboratively with the government to ensure the best possible strategies are put in place,” he said.
“A waste-to-energy strategy, adopting world class technology, will make Queensland a global leader in recycling.
“This move will benefit not only our children, and our children’s children, but also generations to come.
“Queensland councils now have a clear signal that they can stockpile waste for the short to medium term. This waste can then be used to feed environmentally sustainable plants when they are built, which will greatly reduce landfill.
“Our hope is to eventually close landfill sites across the state altogether.”
Meanwhile Ipswich has backflipped on its plan to send yellow bin contents to landfill, with Mayor Andrew Antoniolli saying the council was now utilising a provision in the Local Government Act to employ a short-term contractor to process recycling.
Cr Antoniolli noted that the council’s stance had brought the recycling issue to the fore in national debate.
“The war on waste has appeared on the front page of newspapers from Launceston in the south, to Wagga Wagga, to Cairns in the north,” he said in an open letter to residents .
“Ipswich has for some time been exploring green waste options. We are not content to be considered the waste capital of Australia. Rather, we are intent on becoming the resource and recycling capital of Australia.”
He called on residents to reduce contamination levels in their waste for recycling as a matter of absolute urgency.