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Queensland schools to swap food waste for funding

Queensland’s youngest citizens will help lead the charge against organic waste with $500,000 in funding from the Queensland Government to help state schools tackle food and garden rubbish generated in the schoolyard.

It comes as the sunshine state also launches consultation on its long-term strategy to prevent food scraps and garden waste from ending up in landfill, and instead be recycled.

Environment Minister, Meaghan Scanlon, said state schools would be able to apply for grants of up to $2,500 to reduce their organic waste and instead turn it into valuable products through composting, worm farms and circular food waste systems.

“We’re investing a record $1.4 billion to protect the environment and create jobs as part of our COVID-19 economic recovery plan – and supporting initiatives in waste is a key component of that,” Scanlon said. “Fifty per cent of the rubbish that goes into the bin is waste from our food and gardens. That’s waste that can be turned into valuable products like compost, soil and mulch, rather than becoming methane gas in a landfill and contributing to climate change. Where better to change behaviours around waste than in the schoolyard, where kids can build those good habits early and take some ideas home. State schools can apply for the grants at the start of Term 4 on October 5, 2021 and close on October 29.

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Scanlon said there was a huge wave of support right now with governments, workplaces, schools, community groups and families all over Queensland looking for opportunities to reduce waste, reduce emissions, increase recycling and increase jobs in resource recovery.

“In Queensland 1.8 million tonnes of food waste was generated in 2016-17, with a third of that from households alone,” said Scanlon. “On the other hand, organic recycling in 2018-19 showed the benefits of recycling organics with 3.8 million tonnes of carbon dioxide saved – equivalent to planting 844,096 trees or taking 130,392 cars off the road. “From today, the government will seek public feedback on its draft Queensland Organics Strategy 2022-2032. Whether it’s domestic or commercial food waste, garden organics or timber waste, the strategy sets out the actions needed to drive how we avoid and better manage this waste in the short, medium and long-term. While there are some great initiatives underway like the agriculture sector that avoid organic material going to landfill; some other sectors have a long way to go.”

Among other things, the draft Queensland Organics Strategy 2022-2032 seeks to:

  • avoid the generation of food and other organic wastes;
  • reduce organic material going to landfill and the greenhouse gas this generates;
  • reduce losses in food production and transport;
  • improve soil health, and nutrient and water quality;
  • improve food security, and
  • build infrastructure, investment and employment, and reduce costs.