QLD container refund scheme hits half a billion returns

Half a billion containers have been returned and more than 640 jobs created through Queensland’s container refund scheme, Containers for Change.

Environment Minister Leeanne Enoch said more than 173,000 Queenslanders now have a scheme ID, which shows the state is getting behind the initiative.

“Containers for Change continues to go from strength to strength, providing financial incentives for recycling cans and bottles,” Ms Enoch said.

“The scheme has also helped create more than 640 new jobs and is providing more business opportunities across Queensland.”

Ms Enoch said $50 million had been returned to Queenslanders, charities and community organisations through the scheme.

“When people take their bottles and cans to be recycled, they can choose to get the 10 cent refund or choose to donate that money to charities or community groups,” Ms Enoch said.

“About 3400 community groups, schools, charities and sports clubs are benefitting from the refunds.”

Ms Enoch said since the scheme started on 1 November 2019, there has been a 35 per cent reduction of containers ending up as litter in the environment.

“This scheme, along with the ban on single-use plastic bags also implemented last year, are making a real difference to plastic pollution ending up in our environment and waterways,” Ms Enoch said.

Container Exchange, the organisation that runs the scheme, Chair Mark O’Brien said new refund depots have been opening up across the state in recent weeks.

“We now have more than 275 container refund points providing customer access to container refunds,” Mr O’Brien said.

“Container Exchange will continue to grow the Containers for Change scheme to provide opportunities for customers, charities and community groups to receive refunds and raise funds.”

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Container deposit site to open in Queensland’s Hervey Bay

Environment Minster Leeanne Enoch has announced that a new container deposit site will open in Urangan, a suburb of Hervey Bay in Queensland’s Wide Bay region.

The site will be run by container refund scheme operator U Can Recycle, who operate 14 other container refund points across the state’s network.

“We’ve seen an overwhelming demand for more sites in the area and across Queensland, with 400 million containers already returned in the state,” Ms Enoch said.

“The Wide Bay region has the third highest return rate in Queensland and the new depot will accommodate this strong demand and create local jobs.”

According to Ms Enoch, over 37.3 million containers have been returned in the Wide Bay region since the scheme launched in November 2018.

“That’s $3.73 million going back into the Wide Bay community. I’m delighted to see the continued growth of container refund points across Queensland,” Ms Enoch said.

U Can Recycle General Manager Jason Irwin said he was thrilled to expand the companies services in Hervey Bay.

“We have 12 new local staff members on board all ready to go, including three long-term unemployed people,” Mr Irwin said.

“Our depot is on a huge two-and-a-half-acre block, which means we can receive higher volumes, improve traffic flow and reduce wait times for our customers.”

Mr Irwin said the facility features a drive-thru process, a cash refund option and an air-conditioned waiting room for customers.

“I’m planning to add a café in after we’re up and running,” Mr Irwin said.

The Urangan depot is one of five sites set to open this week including facilities in Cooroy, Atherton, Duaringa and Beerwah – with more openings scheduled in May.

Container Exchange Chief Executive Officer Ken Noye said the organisation is working hard to ensure everyone in Queensland has a chance to participate in the scheme.

“New sites continue to be added to the network to accommodate for the unprecedented volume the scheme has seen in the first five months,” Mr Noye said.

“We’re travelling along nicely towards meeting our goal of having 307 container refund points open by the end of 2019 – after this week there will be 274 sites across Queensland.”

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400 million returns for QLD container refund scheme

Queensland’s container refund scheme Containers for Change, has seen the return of 400 million containers since beginning in December.

The scheme, which is run by not-for profit organisation Container Exchange, provides a 10-cent refund for recycling cans and bottles.

Queensland Environment Minister Leeanne Enoch said the scheme has generated $40 million for residents and community organisations.

“It provides a financial incentive to recycling containers, and there is also the option for people to donate their refunds to charities and community organisations,” Ms Enoch said.

“Container redemption volumes are about a third higher than forecast, and Containers for Change continues to defy expectations.”

Ms Enoch said containers are the second most commonly littered item in the state, with Queenslanders using nearly three billion every year.

“More refund points are becoming established, creating more business opportunities and making the scheme more accessible for Queenslanders,” Ms Enoch.

“The scheme has also created more than 620 jobs across Queensland, which is fantastic.”

Container Exchange CEO Ken Noye said when the program launched it had 230 container refund points statewide, which over five months has grown to 270.

“We’re now seeing things settle down at most depots and bag drop-off points due to a steady increase in the number of container refund points around the state,” Mr Noye said.

Seven new deposit points are scheduled to open by the end of April at Hervey Bay, Atherton, Bribie Island, Cooroy, Yamanto, Airlie Beach and Beaudesert.

Regional breakdown:

  • Greater Brisbane: 174.2 million
  • Gold Coast: 36.8 million
  • Sunshine Coast: 19.9 million
  • South East (including Ipswich): 3.5 million
  • Darling Downs: 28 million
  • Wide Bay: 35.9 million
  • Fitzroy/Central Queensland: 30.6 million
  • Mackay: 11.9 million
  • Townsville/North Queensland: 33.3 million
  • Cairns/Far North Queensland: 26.5 million
  • South West: 5.9 million

Total: 406.5 million

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Queensland to host Asia-Pacific Climate Week

The Queensland Government has announced it will host representatives from across Australia and Asia-Pacific at Queensland’s first Climate Week from 2-8 June.

At the Circular Economy: It’s Our Future forum this week, Queensland Environment Minister Leeanne Enoch said the state government was committed to driving conversations about tackling climate change and improving waste management.

“Climate Week Queensland is an opportunity for our state to showcase its credentials in the climate change policy space both domestically and internationally,” Ms Enoch said.

“The Queensland Government has committed to a target of zero net emissions by 2050, with an interim target of reducing emissions by at least 30 per cent by 2030.”

Ms Enoch said the event would provide an example of what needs to be done across the globe.

“We know we need to move to a more circular way of thinking when it comes to waste management — where waste is considered a valuable resource instead of the current method where we ‘take, make and dispose,’ Ms Enoch said.

“Share knowledge, discuss how a circular economy can combat climate change, and examine ways to make this happen.”

Ms Enoch said the state government’s draft Waste Management and Resource Recovery Strategy will help put Queensland on the path towards a circular economy.

“This long-term strategy includes initiatives such as the container refund scheme and the ban on single-use plastic bags, and focuses on shifting attitudes to encourage more recycling and a re-use mindset,” Ms Enoch said.

“Our strategy, which is underpinned by a waste levy on landfill that will come into effect on 1 July, will grow the recycling and resource recovery sector, while reducing the amount of waste ending up in landfill.”

Ms Enoch said this shift towards a circular economy is key to combating climate change and aligns with state government plans for a more sustainable, low carbon economy.

“It was great to hear at the forum how entrepreneurs, start-ups and researchers have been contributing to the development of a circular economy in Queensland,” Ms Enoch said.

“Important initiatives that change how we think about, better use, and manage materials, resources and waste are critical to a future that supports new industries and creates more jobs.”

Climate week activities will include a public program of arts, music, and panel discussions, a First Nations summit and climate leadership training with Al Gore.

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Cairns material recovery facility receives $6.9 million for upgrades

Cairns’ material recovery facility will soon have double the processing capacity after a $6.9 million award for upgrade works.

The facility will receive $3 million from round four of the Queensland Government’s $295 million Building our Regions (BoR) program, and $3 million from Cairns Regional Council.

Member for Cairns Michael Healy said the facility improvements would lead to better recovery and recycling results for Cairns, and support more than 22 jobs during upgrade works.

“The upgraded infrastructure will allow the facility to double its processing capacity to 30,000 tonnes of recycling,” Mr Healy said.

“This will see a significant jump in waste diversion from landfill, which will increase to a whopping 90 per cent – up 40 per cent from current figures.”

Mr Healy said work would soon begin to extend the receival hall, with a new glass sorting and processing plant to follow.

“Reducing landfill waste aligns with the state governments objectives, as well as our new resource recovery and waste strategy, and Queensland’s Container Deposit Scheme,” Mr Healy said.

State Development Minister Cameron Dick said local recycling opportunities created by the upgraded facility would be significant.

“We’ll see more items collected locally, diverted from landfill and, where viable, recycled – all here in Cairns,” Mr Dick said.

“This is a smart, circular approach that will raise the quality of recycling in our state and give us better access to relevant global export markets.”

Mr Dick said the scaled-up facility will help lessen the region’s environmental footprint and lower the cost of recycling for the far north.

“It will also potentially allow the city to participate in recycling collection services from other local governments and commercial premises,” Mr Dick said.

Cairns Regional Council Mayor Bob Manning said the new infrastructure would increase the facility’s viability, and create an economic opportunity to decrease waste while improving recycling rates.

“We know our community takes its environmental responsibilities seriously given where we live. This much needed upgrade to the material recovery facility will provide fantastic benefits to Cairns and the region,” Mr Manning said.

“It will not only allow us to significantly increase the recovery rate of recyclables, but also as a consequence significantly reduce the amount of waste needing to go to landfill.”

Round 4 of BoR will see the state government partner with 37 councils on 49 projects, work Mr Manning said would create an estimated 657 jobs.

Under previous rounds, the program has allocated $225 million to 174 critical infrastructure projects across the state generating 1762 jobs and attracting additional investment of $353.5 million from councils and other organisations.

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National Clean Technologies Conference & Exhibition

The new National Clean Technologies Conference & Exhibition (NCTCE) will be held on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast at the Event’s Center 29-31 May.

The nationally focused event will cover multiple clean technology growth areas including, energy, waste, water, built environment and transport.

The event, themed Creating Connections: Building Business, aims to play an important role in bringing together key stakeholders across the industry to drive growth, innovation and investment. It also offers an opportunity for the clean technology industry to collaborate, be inspired, find opportunity and do business.

Attendees will hear from international and national leaders from the clean technology industry with real world experience, discover new technology, explore how we can create healthy, resilient and sustainable places, find out how regional Australia can take advantage of the rapidly growing sector and learn about commercialising and deploying new clean technology innovations and develop successful partnerships.

The program will focus heavily on commercialisation, creating effective business clusters, the potential of the circular economy, innovation case studies and success stories, investment and funding channels.

The NCTCE will feature 250 delegates, 40 exhibitors and 55 speakers, including Deputy Lord Mayor of Melbourne Arron Wood, Veolia Sustainable Solutions Manager Angela Cooney and European Cluster Manager of the Year Bianca Dragmir.

The program includes local study tours, workshops and two full days of conference sessions.

For more information click here.

EOIs open for Queensland Waste to Biofutures Fund

Expressions of interest are open for the Queensland Government’s $5 million Queensland Waste to Biofutures Fund.

The Waste to Biofutures Fund offers grants from $50,000 to $1 million to develop pilot, demonstration or commercial-scale projects that produce bio-based products instead of conventional fossil fuel-based products.

This includes utilising household food and green waste, tyres and plastics, recovered fats and oils from restaurants, and biosolids from sewerage treatment plants.

Minister for State Development, Manufacturing, Infrastructure and Planning Cameron Dick said the aim was to make Queensland a world leader in the re-manufacturing of materials to turn waste into bioenergy, biofuels and bioproducts.

“Through this initiative we’ll see innovative waste processing technologies emerge that are scalable and can be deployed statewide, particularly in regional areas of Queensland.

“We’re already doing this at pilot plants where we’re converting a variety of feedstocks like sugarcane waste into biofuels. These processes are supporting Queensland’s transition to a low carbon, circular economy – the results being improved energy efficiency, enhanced fuel security and reduced emissions,” Mr Dick said.

The fund has two pathways both which require the applicant to provide co-funding that matches or exceeds the grant amount.

The first pathway is the purchase and installation of plant and equipment for an existing or greenfield facility to produce bioenergy, biofuels and bioproducts and the second is collaborative research projects that could contribute to the commercial development and growth of Queensland’s biofutures industry.

The fund is an addition to the $100 million Resource Recovery Industry Development Program which targets projects using proven technologies to divert waste from landfill or stockpiling.

Expressions of interest are open until 8 April.

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Southern Oil trials renewable diesel fuel from old tyres

An Australian-first trial using 100 percent renewable diesel from old vehicle tyres, agricultural and forestry waste, biosolids and plastics, to fuel a Scania test engine is underway.

With support from the Palaszczuk Government’s Advance Queensland Industry Attraction Fund, Southern Oil will pioneer the refining of renewable diesel fuel from the materials.

The high-end Scania V8 test engine is being used in its power generation configuration for the testing – allowing assessment of exhaust emissions, performance and response, fuel efficiency, cost and engine lifetime.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk says her government is committed to creating a sustainable, export driven biofutures industry in Queensland.

“A state-based renewable fuels industry would underpin Queensland’s domestic fuel security for decades to come,” she said.

She said that over the next 12 to 18 months, Southern Oil will be trialling renewable diesel in the test engine to show it performs identically to petroleum-based diesel in terms of performance and wear-and-tear on the engine.

“Southern Oil is also aiming to build a commercial-scale renewable fuel refinery within five years, which would create significant job opportunities and improve domestic fuel security for our state.

“This trial is a critical milestone for the development of the renewable fuel industry in Queensland,” she said.

“Warranty by an original equipment manufacturer like Scania is also crucial to commercialisation and uptake of the fuel, as it must have the identical performance and characteristics of fossil fuel.”

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As a result of the trial, renewable fuels company SynBio, a wholly owned subsidiary of South Oil, will relocate from New South Wales to Queensland.

The move will create 11 direct and 25 indirect jobs for the state. Before warranty is secured, an estimated one million litres of the renewable diesel will be trialled at Southern Oil’s advanced biofuels laboratory – a leading facility of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere.

Infrastructure and Planning Minister Cameron Dick said the government will deliver one billion to sustainable and export-orientated biotechnology and byproducts by 2026.

Southern Oil Refinery and SynBio Managing Director Tim Rose said Queensland is leading the country in biofutures and renewable fuels.

“We’re witnessing the first step toward proving renewable diesel refined in Queensland from waste products can be chemically indistinguishable from petroleum-based diesel,” Mr Rose said.

“Having a company like Scania endorse our fuel is crucial to creating commercial demand for our diesel and moving from pilot scale into demonstration scale.

“Today’s demonstration shows there’s a huge opportunity to produce 100 per cent renewable diesel fuel in Queensland from waste.

“We could also see a reduction in industry’s reliance on fossil fuels.”

Scania Australia National Manager (Engines) Andre Arm said the company was proud to be a global leader in the shift towards a sustainable transport future.

“We have developed our heavy-duty commercial vehicle, marine and industrial engines to be able to run on a variety of renewable or alternative fuels with no loss of performance or economy, while also reducing our emissions impact,” Mr Arm said.

“Scania is delighted to be a partner in the proving of this concept.”

QLD Draft Waste Management and Resource Recovery Strategy

The Queensland Government has released a draft waste management strategy for consultation, setting targets for 2050 and action points for stakeholders.

Targets for 2050 include having a rate of recycling of 75 per cent for all waste types, with only 10 per cent of waste going to landfill, and a 25 per cent reduction in household waste.

Queensland reported 10.9 million tonnes of waste in 2017-18, with 45 per cent of this recycled.

The Queensland Government plans to invest $100 million over the next three years for new and expanded waste management facilities.

In the report, Environment Minister Leeanne Enoch said this will be complemented by a suite of education and support programs. The government also has a commitment to devote more than 70 per cent of levy proceeds to resource recovery and other programs that reduce the impact of waste.

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Other measures already adopted include a $100 million Resource Recovery Industry Development Program and $5 million Waste to Bioenergy Fund.

Five strategic priorities are outlined including reducing waste, transitioning to a circular economy and building economic opportunities.

In building economic opportunities, the government has listed action points to develop the Advance Queensland Waste and Resource Recovery Industries Roadmap. Further to this, developing  proposals for landfill disposal bans and creating market development plans for key waste types and waste sectors.

Ms Enoch said the draft strategy presented a fundamental shift in the way waste is managed in Queensland.

“The latest figures show we are generating more waste than we are growing in population, and Queensland is still one of the worst performers in Australia when it comes to recycling,” Ms Enoch said.

“This comprehensive draft strategy supports the Palaszczuk Government’s long-term vision of becoming a zero-waste society, where waste is avoided and the waste we do produce is reused and recycled.”

She said these targets would also directly contribute to the Queensland Government’s targets of zero net emissions by 2050.

“The end goals from this strategy are simple. We need to reduce the amount of waste we create, cut greenhouse gas emissions and leave our environment in a better condition for our future generations,” she said.

“At the moment, the approach to waste is ‘take-make-use-dispose’, but this needs to change to a more circular model, where materials keep circulating within the economy at their highest value.”

Australian Council of Recycling CEO Pete Shmigel said that by moving towards a circular economy and creating market demand for recycled products, the waste industry can lead the next resources boom for Queensland, creating vital jobs and investment opportunities.

“The Queensland Government’s waste strategy is a great new bunch of carrots for better and more resource recovery,” Mr Shmigel said.

“Our industry welcomes the incentives for greater investment, and the emphasis on recycling’s economic and jobs benefits.

“We look forward to the strategy’s ‘doing’ including the right organisational structures and stakeholder partnerships.

“We’re not really recycling until we’re making and buying products from recyclate and that’s where we all need to go next.”

To view the strategy, click here.

Public consultation closes on April 5.