Research & Reports

Report highlights urgency needed to improve Queensland’s waste management

A new report released by the Palaszczuk government shows that more waste was coming from interstate last financial year, while the state’s reported waste generation had already exceeded 10 million tonnes for the first time ever.

Released during the recent National Waste Recycling Industry Council quarterly meeting, the Recycling and Waste in Queensland 2018 report provides a snapshot of how waste and recyclables were managed, recovered and disposed of in 2017-18 financial year.

The report is prepared annually, based on data supplied by local governments, the waste and resource recovery industry and recyclers across Queensland.

According to Leeanne Enoch, minister for the environment and the Great Barrier Reef, the report demonstrated the urgency needed to improve Queensland’s waste management.

“Alarmingly, more than 1.2 million tonnes of waste were trucked over the border into Queensland in 2017-18. If you lined up all of these trucks, the line would stretch from Brisbane to past Mackay,” Enoch said.

“This amount was about a 37 per cent increase – or more than 394,000 tonnes – compared to the previous financial year. These figures are further proof that the impacts are still being felt from the LNP’s reckless decision to scrap the waste levy in Queensland in 2012.

“The Palaszczuk government is moving ahead with its comprehensive waste management strategy, which is underpinned by a waste levy that s proposed to begin on July 1 this year. This will stop the trucks and create incentives to divert waste away from landfill, while encouraging more recycling and resource recovery initiatives.”

The report also showed that Queensland generated nearly 11 million tonnes of waste in 2017-18, which was an increase of 1.1 million tonnes compared to the previous year.

“This represented an 11 per cent increase, which is concerning when you consider our population only grew by 1.6 per cent in the same time period,” Enoch added.

“We need to do something about how we manage waste in Queensland, and that is why we are working on a better strategy for our state. We want to increase investment in recycling and resource recovery industries, because not only is diverting waste away from landfill better for our environment, it also provides more job opportunities.

“It is estimated that for every 10,000 tonnes of waste disposed in landfill, about three jobs are supported. But if that waste was recycled, this would support about nine jobs.”

However, the report does show that in 2017-18, Queenslanders increased their recycling efforts for household and business waste by 580,000 tonnes, resulting in close to five million tonnes of materials being diverted from landfill.

“It’s promising to see recycling rates increase, but there was still room for improvement. We still recycle only about 45 per cent of the waste we generate, which needs to change,” Enoch said.

“That is why last year we introduced a ban on single-use lightweight plastic bags, along with a container refund scheme, Containers for Change.

“By working together, we can create a more resourceful, less wasteful future that maximises the value of our resources and supports the development of sustainable new jobs and industries.”