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12 December, 2020

TRC Recycling on hold

Since the start of the COVID pandemic The Tablelands Regional Council (TRC) has ceased sending their kerbside recycling to recycling plants and has instead been putting their recycling into local landfill without any public consultation.

By Phil Brandel

Some of the approximate 25 tonnes of recycling that is going straight into landfill.

Since the start of the COVID pandemic The Tablelands Regional Council (TRC) has ceased sending their kerbside recycling to recycling plants and has instead been putting recycling into local landfill without any public consultation.

A council insider who did not want to be named approached The Express claiming that a minimum of 25 tonnes per week of kerbside recycling was going straight into landfill at Springmount.

“They have not been sending the recycling away to Cairns or Brisbane like they should,” they said.

“At one stage all the recycling was being recorded as wet waste so they didn’t have to record that recycling was going into landfill.

“They haven’t switched on the materials recovery facility (MRF) since about March."

According to the TRC website “We operate an MRF at the Atherton Transfer Station. This facility is the only one of its kind in regional Queensland, and is the specialised facility that receives, separates and prepares recyclable materials for further processing.”

“The MRF accepts the recyclable materials that are placed in the household recycle bin (yellow lid) or in the large recycle skip bins at our transfer stations.”

While other local councils have made no changes to their recycling or waste practices due to COVID, Mark Vis, General Manager Infrastructure and Planning at the TRC admitted that the MRF was closed earlier this year because of high contamination levels increasing the COVID contamination risk to TRC employees.

 “Contamination levels are expected to have improved and we are presenting a report to Council at the December meeting regarding future options for the MRF,” Mr Vis said

 “Kerbside recycling is going to landfill. Clean stream recycling is still being collected, baled and sent for processing. (steal and cardboard)

In September 2020 the TRC received a grant from the state government to help with the transport costs of moving recycling to Brisbane.

The $46,000 grant was provided by the Department of Environment and Science under the Regional Recycling Transport Assistance Package.

The money is to be used by the TRC to fully cover the recycling transport cost for 12 months.

 Mr Vis said “As per the grant conditions, this money is being used to transport cardboard to Brisbane and further initiatives in the New Year regarding future options for the MRF.”

As for the why the truck drivers were told to record recycling as wet waste Mr Vis said it was a mistake that has now been rectified. “When the MRF closed, the kerbside recycle trucks were advised to treat the recycle collection as general wet waste so they knew the destination for the waste was the wet waste pit for sending onto Springmount landfill,” he said.  

“The recycle truck’s registration number is registered when the load is measured on the gatehouse weighbridge and that is what identifies it as kerbside recycling and then reported through to DES as part of our regulatory reporting. 

“When we became aware of this misunderstanding three weeks ago, we clarified to the drivers that the recycling trucks should still report at the gatehouse, as recycle waste but its destination remains the wet waste pit.”

 Even though no plastic recycling has been sent to Brisbane since March a council spokesperson told The Express in September that “In the last quarter of the financial year, we sent a total of more than 54t’s of plastics south.”


 


 

  


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