Community & Business

8 August, 2023

Waste move saves millions

TABLELANDS Regional Council will sell off its fleet of rubbish trucks and redeploy drivers when a $23 million contract begins in November that will replace the council-run kerbside waste collection service.

By Robyn Holmes

TRC will sell off its fleet of waste trucks when a contractor takes over the kerbside collection service in November.
TRC will sell off its fleet of waste trucks when a contractor takes over the kerbside collection service in November.

The move is part of the council’s new waste strategy and means council-employed drivers will either be deployed to other positions within the organisation or be picked up by the contractor, JJ Richards, who won the tender for the kerbside waste collection for the next eight years.

TRC is one of the last councils to run its own waste collection service, with other local councils having made the transition to contractors decades ago due to costs of replacing and maintaining the vehicles and managing staff.

TRC’s Infrastructure and Environment acting general manager Tudor Tanase said all five waste collection trucks were ageing and a decision had to be made as to whether to replace the vehicles or contract the work out.

“Our five kerbside collection vehicles are at the end of life and will cost nearly $3 million to replace,” he said.

“The use of contractors will save around $7 million over the life of the contract as they can provide the service at a lower cost due to economies of scale.

“We are one of the last councils in Queensland to provide an inhouse kerbside collection service.”

He said council had been working with affected staff to ensure they had opportunities to be redeployed or to work with JJ Richards.

The new contract will begin on 1 November and there will be no obvious difference for residents initially, with routes, times and days to remain the same.

“Possibly in the future (we may make changes) to improve efficiencies but this will be well communicated in advance,” Mr Tanase said.

Meanwhile, TRC has initiated a competition to name the new fleet of JJ Richards trucks. Four names are being sought.

Locals can put forward names on TRC’s Facebook post which does warn that some names just won’t be considered.

“Here’s a few to scratch off your list before you get started – Truckie McTruckface, Wastey McWastetruck and Rubbish McRubbishface,” the post reads.

“We’re also retiring the name Johnny Trash, which was the winning entry back in 2018 when we last ran this competition.”

The new waste collection contract is just one of the initiatives in TRC’s Waste Strategy which was endorsed in September 2021, with Stage 1 aimed at investigating ways to achieve more cost efficiency.

Also part of Stage 1 was a deal struck with Cairns Regional Council and endorsed by TRC at its June meeting in 2022 that involves sending all recyclables collected in the yellow-lid bin to Cairns. Around 80-100 tonnes of kerbside recycling is transported to Cairns every month. 

Atherton’s materials recovery facility, which used to handle recyclables, was closed in April 2020 due to high contamination rates.

Sending the recyclables to Cairns is saving the council around $350,000 a year, according to CEO Gary Rinehart.

“North Queensland councils have to work together to make recycling sustainable, especially with the tyranny of distance,” he said at the time.

While kerbside recycling of paper, plastics, aluminium and glass is processed at the Cairns MRF,  steel, ferrous and non-ferrous items that are brought by the community to council’s transfer stations are stockpiled and sold to a metals recycling company through a contract with Far North Queensland Regional Organisation of Councils.


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