The Bundaberg Protocol: Queensland’s response to recycling

Queensland industry stakeholders have released a five-point action plan in response to the impact of the global recycling challenge on the state, including greater risk sharing provisions for council contracts and more recycled content in public policy and purchasing.

The Waste Recycling Industry Association of Queensland (WRIQ) hosted the Queensland Secondary Resources Forum in late April, in Bundaberg, to address issues impacting kerbside recycling and international challenges.

The forum aimed to discuss the Chinese Government’s decision to restrict the amount of waste being imported and how it effects Queensland domestic recycling capabilities.

All actions must be reported against in October 2018.

The five point plan includes education and awareness, collection, procurement, contracting and regulation. It places the onus of responsibility on the various stakeholders involved in reform to take action.

Education and awareness aims to be established through improved standardised community education to inform approved items for kerbside recycling bins. A Working Group will be convened by 30 May, 2018 to develop an education program project scope for councils. This will be facilitated by local government representatives, state government, the Product Stewardship Council, WRIQ and the Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation.

Related stories:

The plan also includes a focus on collection, with a plan to trial two local government kerbside collection systems and monitor the reduction of contaminants. Bundaberg Regional Council will trial the removal of flexible plastics and all non-bottle plastics from its kerbside bins. Ipswich City Council will trial the removal of all glass items from its kerbside bins. Project plans for each will be established in May, 2018.

In terms of procurement, the manifesto recommends the Queensland Government’s procurement policy be amended to mandate the use of recycled content in public policy and purchasing, with a preferred weighting to Queensland generated recycled product. Products to be promoted include recycled glass for reuse in infrastructure, plastic for feedstock in manufactured public infrastructure, paper and cardboard for reuse and organics for street scapes, landscapes and other composting activities. This will be facilitated by WRIQ working with the state government.

Contracting in the plan comprises separating recyclables processing and recyclables collection contracts, the inclusion of risk sharing provisions with commodity prices and contamination between councils and contractors, and some other measures. This will be facilitated by the state government’s Department of Environment and Science (DES) with support from WRIQ and the Local Government Association of Queensland. The action plan requests DES to assist by convening a local government and industry working group to scope and redesign a new contract framework (and model contract) for kerbside recyclables collection and processing in Queensland.

Regulation focuses on using existing provisions in the Waste Recycling Reduction Act – Chapter 4 Management of Priority and other products provisions. The manifesto argues the Queensland Government should prepare notices of intent for the introduction of priority product statements on materials which include non-CRS glass item, non-bottle plastics and textiles. Australian standards be amended to allow for/encourage recycled content to be used in product manufacture. The action plan requests DES to issue a directive to the relevant industry organisations for glass, plastics and textile manufacturers placing product in Queensland. It asks them to call for the introduction of voluntary stewardship programs for their products and seek their future commitments by October, 2018.

The news followed with recent commitments by state and territory environment ministers regarding recycled packaging.