Decision by Ipswich Council to Landfill Recyclables

18 April 2018

“The decision announced today by the Mayor of Ipswich that Ipswich City Council to landfill recyclables is extremely disappointing and completely out of step with community expectations”, said Gayle Sloan, CEO of WMAA, which is the peak industry body representing Australia’s waste and resource recovery sector.

“The community expects and trusts government and industry to manage this essential service responsibly. This is an issue that goes beyond cost to value, including the ability to create jobs and manage adverse environmental impacts by the continued use of virgin material, when there are renewable alternatives. The people of Ipswich are not sorting their recyclable materials into a different bin, just so that Council can send it to the same place as their waste.”

Any Council that makes such a decision really should be mindful of the trust the community puts in government and industry to manage this service in a responsible manner; the community is seeking us to deliver more sustainable solutions, not to go backwards by sending recyclable material to landfill,” Ms Sloan added.

The China National Sword has impacted about 1million tonnes of recyclable commodities each year from Australia. WMAA believes this is an opportunity for Australia to invest in significant remanufacturing capacity for these products.

The Queensland Government has signaled that it supports the development of investment in new waste and resource infrastructure with the development of a new waste and resource recovery strategy, underpinned by a waste levy.

“The lack of such a policy and a levy has left Queensland as one of the worst recyclers in Australia, with low recycling rates and lower investment in industry. It also means that unlike other States there is no levy funds available to assist Councils to transition through this changing time.

What is needed at a time like this is leadership and partnership between industry and all levels of government create jobs and investment in resource recovery infrastructure. The impact on households is estimated at $1 per week; however the opportunity that it presents for jobs and investment far outweighs this.

“We understand that Council took this decision in isolation of broader industry and Government, failing to try and work with others to solve this issue and demonstrate real leadership at this challenging time,” said Ms Sloan. “The solution is not land-filling!”

“We know that by recovering resources and recycling we can create almost one job for every tonne, compared with 0.2 jobs if we landfill. Ipswich is not only wasting resources but wasting the opportunity to create jobs.

It is correct that the recycling industry is under pressure and Australia needs to act now to ensure that the Circular Economy is real, which means consumers, industry, government and generators of waste starting to work together and think a bit differently to use recycled material in as many products as possible that we make here. Ipswich Council should show leadership in developing a long term sustainable solution and not simply reacting is isolation out of step with community and the rest of Australia.

At all levels of Government, including National, we need to put policies in place that support the development of sustainable secondary markets for recycled materials.

“The broader community, especially those affected in Ipswich, can send a clear and loud message to their local council that this action is out of step with their expectations,” said Ms Sloan. “They can do this by continuing to do the right thing and separate their waste rather than give up and accept that it will all be sent to landfill.”