Cairns’ recycling and recovery capacity has doubled with the commissioning of a new state-of-the-art Materials Recovery Facility (MRF).
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.
Queensland’s Product Responsibility Organisation, Container Exchange, has selected recycling company Envirobank Recycling as the network provider of container refund points for the Queensland Government’s Container Refund Scheme (CRS).
Envirobank will provide a minimum of 48 collection points along the Queensland coast across Cairns, Townsville, Sunshine Coast, Brisbane and the Gold Coast.
- New information on Tasmanian Container Refund Scheme released
- Positive results for NT container deposit scheme
- ACT container deposit scheme start date announced
Collection points will include Coles supermarket locations, community collection points with not for profit partners such as Surf Life Saving Queensland (SLSQ) and three large-scale automated depots for bulk processing of large quantities for businesses and community groups.
The Queensland CRS launches on 1 November 2018 and aims to reduce beverage container litter across the state.
Drink containers are the second most commonly littered item in the state, with around 2.4 billion generated annually even though the majority of the containers can be recycled.
A 10 cent refund is provided for each eligible container that is returned to a collection point, with payment made through cash, retail vouchers or digital payments such as Scheme ID or a PayPal account.
Container Exchange Acting Chair Alby Taylor said the criteria for selecting operators was an extensive process designed to meet customer needs.
“Our tender process generated a lot of interest from both small and large operators and in the end, it came down to ensuring we provided the best service to the Queensland public,” Mr Taylor said.
“We have listened to the feedback from other states and in Queensland you will see a lot more mobile collections to ensure we can get to as many people as possible wanting a refund.
“We will have depot sites as well as bag drop options in many communities, with many operations benefiting local community groups and charities,’ he said.
Envirobank Founder and Managing Director Narelle Anderson said her goal is to make collecting refunds easy for the public, so they can be rewarded for their recycling efforts.
“We are always dreaming up new ways to ensure people not only get convenient access to the scheme, but also choose the way they want to get their refunds,” said Ms Anderson.
“Envirobank has been a long-term network operator in the Northern Territory Scheme and it’s evident the program is much more than a litter reduction initiative.
“With the right partnerships in place the Scheme has the potential to raise substantial funds for many charities that deliver the vital services we need in our communities.”
Coles Queensland General Manager Jerry Farrell said the partnership was in line with the retailer’s sustainability commitments to improve recycling and reduce waste sent to landfill.
“Coles has made a public commitment to crush waste and reduce landfill, and our partnership with Envirobank in Queensland is a great opportunity for us to work with our customers to stop empty plastic containers ending up on the streets, our waterways or in landfill,” Mr Farrell said.
The scheme offers charities, community groups and not for profits a way of fundraising by setting up donation sites.
SLSQ CEO John Brennan said the partnership with Envirobank will help maximise the benefits for volunteer surf lifesavers.
“We are thrilled that the Container Refund Scheme is coming to Queensland and, by partnering with Envirobank, it means that each of our 58 clubs right up and down the Queensland coastline will have the opportunity to benefit financially,” Mr Brennan said.
“Every valid container put in a donation point at one of our clubs is a new stream of income that will be re-invested straight back into their lifesaving work in their local community.”
Image: Narelle Anderson