North Queensland councils collaborate on waste

north queensland waste

A new Regional Waste and Resource Recovery Management Plan to deliver better services and reduce household waste to landfill in north Queensland has been released.

The plan is a blueprint for the region’s investment in waste management and will help address the challenges of service delivery in regional and remote areas, delivering economies of scale and a higher level of co-operation.

The Queensland Government provided $300,000 in funding to assist the five member councils that make up the North Queensland Regional Organisation of Councils (NQROC) – Burdekin Shire Council, Charters Towers Regional Council, Hinchinbrook Shire Council, Palm Island Aboriginal Shire Council and Townsville City Council – develop the plan.

It outlines a range of actions over the immediate to long-term including:

  • Optimising regional service arrangements to deliver better servicing for rural and remote communities.
  • New transfer station facilities, consolidation of transfer facilities and closure of existing rural landfills.
  • Enhancing kerbside collection approaches to increase capture of co-mingled recyclables.
  • Maximising the diversion of organics from landfill.
  • Optimising the regional network of resource recovery facilities through “hub and spoke” arrangements.
  • Developing a centralised resource recovery precinct.
  • Developing alternatives to landfill for residual waste.
  • Improved community engagement through education and awareness.

The Department of Environment and Science will support NQROC to implement the plan.

“Compared with more populated regions, distance and the availability of infrastructure and resources mean that regional and remote councils and communities have to do more with less across a wide range of resource recovery and other services,” said Environment Minister, Leanne Linard.

“Resource recovery is of vital importance in our drive for environmental sustainability, embodying the principles of a circular economy by reusing, recycling, and repurposing materials and energy sources, thereby reducing waste generation and conserving valuable resources.

“The new NQROC Regional Resource Recovery Plan will guide councils’ decisions, bringing a maximum return on investment in waste management and resource recovery infrastructure and initiatives.”

In 2020, the NQROC delivered a Waste Management Strategy to guide the region over the next 20 years.

Cr Lyn McLaughlin, NQROC Chair and Mayor of the Burdekin Shire Council, said local governments are at the coal face of managing waste and resource recovery. The challenges are significant and can only be met through regional collaboration.

“It is a balance between rising landfill and waste transport costs, a lack of local processing services and rightful community expectations of protecting the environment,” McLaughlin said.

“Infrastructure improvements, the establishment of re-processing industries, and improvements to our processes are included in our Plan. So is the education of our communities, such that they better understand the role they play in managing waste.

“It is important that regional efforts are prioritised, coordinated, planned, and funded.”

The region covered by NQROC spans more than 80,036 square kilometres, with a population of about 238,813.

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