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Queensland’s rate of dumping waste outstrips population growth

The amount of waste produced by Queenslanders increased by 11 per cent in the 2018 financial year, while its population increased by just 1.6 per cent.

That means the amount of waste coming from Queensland homes, businesses and construction sites is increased almost seven times the rate of the state’s population growth.

Waste trucked in from interstate where companies have avoided paying a waste levy in southern states by bringing their waste to Queensland increased by 37 per cent in 2017-18, reaching 1.2 million tonnes.

These facts are contained in a draft Queensland strategy designed to identify new areas for Queensland businesses from recycling waste.

“In the 2018 financial year, Queensland households, businesses and industry generated 10.9 million tonnes of waste, an 11 per cent increase from the previous year and representing a greater rate of increase than population growth,” the draft Resource Recovery Industries 10-Year Roadmap and Action Plan says.

The report also shows Queensland has a major problem in recycling paper and cardboard.

Queensland wants to improve its recycling rates and direct more waste from landfill.

Queensland wants to improve its recycling rates and direct more waste from landfill.

“Despite having a paper mill that exclusively uses recovered fibre feed stock, Queensland has one of the lowest recovery rates across all Australian states and territories,” the report shows.

“Higher-performing jurisdictions recycle over 75 per cent of paper and cardboard waste each year.”

However, it does not identify the rate of recycling paper and cardboard in Queensland, nor any timelines for strategies to create new businesses over 10 years.

A government spokesman said the timelines would be added when the final report was issued.

The report also says Queensland exports more than 50 per cent of its paper and cardboard waste and plastic waste to overseas countries. This is a problem as Queensland tries to establish competitive new local businesses.

State Development Minister Cameron Dick agreed the idea is to create new areas for jobs by stopping material headed to Queensland’s slowly-filling landfills.

“Research indicates for every 10,000 tonnes of waste going to landfill there are fewer than three jobs supported,” he said.

“But if that same waste was recycled the number of jobs generated would more than triple to just over nine.”

“This road map sets out actions for the next 10 years to ensure we, as a state, are diverting more waste away from landfill and creating new jobs in resource recovery industries.”

Queensland Minister for State Development, Manufacturing, Infrastructure and Planning Cameron Dick is seen during Question Time at Parliament House in Brisbane

Queensland Minister for State Development, Manufacturing, Infrastructure and Planning Cameron Dick is seen during Question Time at Parliament House in Brisbane Credit:AAP

The report wants to identify potential new jobs and waste industry growth using the $100 million raised over three years by Queensland’s new waste levy.

The first step is setting higher targets for reducing the amount of waste in Queensland that goes to landfill.

In 2018, 55 per cent of all Queensland waste went to landfill, leaving 45 per cent that was recovered and diverted to either recycling, repair or reuse.

The 10-year road map sets new targets for  2030 and 2050 to divert waste to either recycling or reuse or repair from three sections of waste.

Proposed targets for recycling or reusing waste in Queensland

New targets for household waste (council waste collections)

Today only 31 per cent of waste from households is recycled, reused or repaired.

In 2030, the Queensland Government wants to increase that to 80 per cent.

By 2050, 95 per cent should be recycled, reused or repaired.

New targets for commercial and industrial waste

Today, 48 per cent is recyled, reused, or repaired.

By 2030, the Queensland Government want to increase that to 80 per cent.

By 2050,  the aim is to raise that to 95 per cent.

New targets for construction and demolition waste

Today 51 per cent of this waste is reused or recycled, or reconstructed.

By 2030, the Queensland Government aims to increase this figure to 85 per cent.

By 2050, the target remains at 85 per cent.

The 2018 figures for recycling or reusing rubbish is a slight improvement on Queensland’s 2016 recycling figures.

The report plans a series of loans to encourage new industries – by making it expensive to dump material in landfills – and a strategy to develop new industries in recycling plastics, glass, paper, cardboard, and wastes from medical, chemical, construction and demolition industries, Mr Dick said.

“We want to see more waste go back into the production cycle to create new materials and products,” he said.

“This will reduce waste going to landfill, cut our greenhouse gas emissions and create better environmental outcomes, all the while helping us to build a stronger and more sustainable economy.”

The Queensland branch of Waste Recyclers of Australia were contacted for comment.

Tony Moore is a senior reporter at the Brisbane Times

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