North Queenslanders are being encouraged to have their say on the region’s waste and resource management, as the North Queensland Regional Organisation of Councils (NQROC) works to develop its 10-year waste strategy.
NQROC chairperson and Burdekin Mayor Lyn McLaughlin said the regional approach would benefit ratepayers from across the region’s five councils.
“A collaborative approach that includes the Burdekin, Charters Towers, Hinchinbrook, Palm Island and Townsville councils gives us a better chance of attracting more investors to support recovery and recycling infrastructure,” she said.
“The combined approach could help us develop regional markets for diverted organics, recyclables and construction material.”
Townsville Council Water and Waste Committee chairperson Russ Cook said organic waste would be a major focus of the new strategy.
“We have made some great strides in recycling in Townsville, but we’re hoping to take a big step forward with improved management of organic material,” he said.
Cook added that organic waste accounts for almost 40 per cent of material in kerbside waste bins, highlighting potential to introduce a third household bin for garden and food organics.
“In addition to this, one-quarter of the waste in household bins is misplaced recyclables, so we can make some major improvements in waste management in the 10-year strategy,” he said.
Key options proposed within the strategy are improved collection and management of organic materials and recovering energy from the mixed waste stream through a waste-to-energy facility.
According to the strategy document, preliminary analysis has identified viable pathways for both options, including in tandem, although detailed investigations are required.
“The key challenges to developing new recycling programs and facilities in the NQROC region are the limited quantities, long transport distances both within and outside the region, and the need for secure end markets for the recovered materials,” the document reads.
“The strategy identifies a suite of actions to address these challenges and unlock investment in new infrastructure and equipment for targeted recovery streams.”
Cook said the strategy will also look for ways to create local jobs, with potential to develop shared mobile processing equipment that can be used across all five councils.
“Recycling and reuse are important parts of the North Queensland Waste and Resource Recovery Strategy 2020 – 2030 and they can help the economy,” he said.
“There is a focus on creating local markets for recovered materials and this can support businesses and jobs across the region.”