Cr Nancy Sommerfield
Cr Nancy Sommerfield Nev Madsen

Investment needed in Australian recycling options

TOOWOOMBA Regional Council's waste chair says the council is working to ensure the recyclable materials it collects are dealt with in Australia, following China's ban on imports and a waste scandal in Malaysia.

"It takes time to make such a significant shift from exporting Australian products to creating manufacturing industries onshore," Cr Nancy Sommerfield said.

"Local Government, through LGAQ and other avenues, is working with both the State and Federal Governments to develop cohesive policies that enable onshore industries to develop further. A key to this change is the introduction of the waste levy in Queensland which is an enabler for this type of industry to make advancements.

"Within the Toowoomba Region, Council encourages businesses to look at more environmentally-friendly alternatives which was reflected in an amendment made to our Procurement Policy earlier this week, to include environmentally responsible activities as a criteria when assessing tenders before Council."

Cr Sommerfield said the council had a number of strategic actions which had been identified in the Waste Management Strategy 2017, under the Preparing for the Future Plan, which included consideration of regional options for processing of materials.

"As more businesses like Plastic Forests, who recycle contaminated plastic film from the food, post-industrial and agricultural industries, continue to develop, so too will the recycling options grow within Australia," she said.

Concerns about waste recently surfaced after Australian recycling was found dumped in Malaysia.

Cr Sommerfield said the Toowoomba Regional Council had no information to suggest that material from Toowoomba was being sent to Malaysia.

She said the council had a contract with JJ Richards and Sons for the collection and processing of recycled materials and JJ Richards and Sons sub contracts the processing of recyclable material to Visy.

"Visy are the major recycler in South East Queensland and the majority of kerbside recyclable material is delivered to Visy," she said.

"While Council is aware of the increasing challenges within the recycling industry as a result of China's National Sword Policy, Toowoomba Regional Council has an expectation that its recycled materials continues to be disposed of in line with its current contract.

"Council is not aware of any contractor breaching their contractual or legal obligations in relation to this contract. If there was evidence of a breach Council would investigate this matter further."

Cr Sommerfield said she encouraged people to continue recycle.

"We encourage residents to keep faith with their yellow bins and to ensure they're placing the correct recyclable material in this bin, separate from general waste wherever possible," she said.

The plastic ban is here: Single use plastic bags are a thing of the past.
The plastic ban is here: Single use plastic bags are a thing of the past.