9 September, 2023
New plan to tackle regional waste challenges
MAREEBA and Tablelands councils have collaborated with nine other local governments in the region to develop a plan aimed at delivering improved regional waste management and resource recovery outcomes.
The State Government provided $300,000 to the Far North Queensland Regional Organisation of Councils (FNQROC) to develop the Regional Resource Recovery Plan which was released last week.
The plan provides a blueprint to help guide Far North Queensland councils’ investment decisions in infrastructure and non-infrastructure needs for the region, with councils committed to cooperating to maximise benefits.
It outlines immediate, short, medium and long-term actions for councils to achieve beneficial outcomes for the region, including immediate considerations to help reduce the amount of municipal solid waste (household waste) disposed to landfill.
Eight key actions identified in the plan include:
▪ Customer engagement through education and awareness
▪ Optimising regional service arrangements by providing better servicing for rural and remote communities
▪ New transfer station facilities, consolidation of transfer facilities and closure of existing rural landfills
▪ Enhancing kerbside collection approaches to increase capture of co-mingled recyclables
▪ Maximising the diversion of organics from landfill
Optimising the regional network of resource recovery facilities through “hub and spoke” arrangements
▪ Developing a centralised resource recovery precinct, and
▪ Developing alternatives to landfill for residual waste.
Mareeba Mayor Angela Toppin said the intent of the plan was to provide a framework that would lead to improved resource recovery, minimise waste generation, and create a circular economy that would benefit both the environment and the region.
“It is a culmination of the efforts of various stakeholders, including state and local government, waste experts, and industry players who have contributed their expertise and knowledge to this project,” she said.
“This plan provides FNQROC councils with the opportunity to transform resource recovery in our region, whilst identifying the support needed for councils to respond to the challenges they face.”
FNQROC Chair and Douglas Mayor Michael Kerr says the plan was badly needed given the challenges Far Northern councils faced.
“Far North Queensland faces a unique set of challenges in delivering cost effective and sustainable waste services and these challenges can vary significantly from one council to the next,” he said.
“All councils in the region wrestle with issues such as access to secondary markets and transport costs, and the increasing costs and difficulties in developing new waste infrastructure.
“These all impact on a council’s ability to deliver and operate resource recovery networks and facilities and achieve their individual waste management goals.
“The new Regional Resource Recovery Plan will help provide clear direction for our councils, with these councils often trying to balance competing demands for investment in waste management and resource recovery services.
“By following this plan, we can help ensure the best ‘bang for the buck’ for investment in critical waste infrastructure and programs.”
TRC Infrastructure and Environment general manager Mark Vis said the plan would help FNQROC member councils work together to reduce the amount of waste going to landfill – in part through actions such as a regional education and awareness campaign to improve recycling rates.
“By working collectively, it may also help us to tackle future challenges such as the increasing cost of waste infrastructure,” he said.
“We already send all our kerbside recycling to the state-of-the-art Cairns Materials Recovery Facility with more than 1350 tonnes processed last financial year – an increase of almost 30% on the previous year.
“While we were involved in the working group responsible for the development of the Regional Resource Recovery Plan, council will still need to fully consider the plan's content.”