Sunday, July 21, 2024

New waste deal for Far North councils

Eleven Far North Queensland Councils, including the Indigenous local governments of Hope Vale, Wujal Wujal and Yarrabah, will be assisted to better manage their waste thanks to a new Regional Resource Recovery Plan.

The 11 Councils are members of the Far North Queensland Regional Organisation of Councils (FNQROC), with the organisation receiving $300,000 from the Queensland Government to develop the plan.

Minister for the Environment and the Great Barrier Reef, Minister for Science and Minister for Multicultural Affairs, Leanne Linard said the Government’s funding investment demonstrated its commitment to working with councils to deliver significant change in waste management and resource recovery, especially in reducing the amount of municipal solid waste disposed to landfill and improving recovery of recyclable materials.

“The distances involved and the availability of infrastructure and resources – compared with highly populated regions – often means Far North Queensland councils and communities have to do more with less across a wide range of services,” the Minister said.

“The new FNQROC Regional Resource Recovery Plan will guide Councils’ decisions, bringing a maximum return on investment in waste management and resource recovery infrastructure and initiatives.

“For the three First Nation Far North Queensland Councils, this plan complements actions identified in ‘Respecting Country: A sustainable waste strategy for First Nation communities’, which was co-designed with and for First Nation Councils and released in April 2022.”

Endorsed by FNQROC and the Department of Environment and Science (DES), the Regional Resource Recovery Plan provides a blueprint to help guide Council investment decisions in infrastructure and non-infrastructure needs for Far North Queensland.

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.

The eight key actions identified in the Regional Resource Recovery Plan include:

  • Step-change in 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.

These eight key actions work together to provide improved regional resource recovery and economic development outcomes for the region.

DES representatives participated on the FNQROC Working Group during development of the plan and will support the implementation of the plan as required.

“FNQROC thanks the Queensland Government for its support in helping develop our Regional Resource Recovery Plan,” said FNQROC Chair and Douglas Shire Council Mayor, Michael Kerr.

“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.

“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,” he said.

FNQROC was established in 1992 and represents member Councils in Far North Queensland, inclusive of the three First Nation councils of Hope Vale, Wujal Wujal, and Yarrabah. 

This area covers 1,235 km of the eastern seaboard with a land area of 252,542 sq km and a population of approximately 285,510. Cairns is the major population centre for the region.

The member councils of FNQROC are: Cairns Regional Council, Cassowary Coast Regional Council, Cook Shire Council, Croydon Shire Council, Douglas Shire Council, Etheridge Shire Council, Hope Vale Aboriginal Shire Council, Mareeba Shire Council, Tablelands Regional Council, Wujal Wujal Aboriginal Shire Council, Hinchinbrook Shire Council and Yarrabah Aboriginal Shire Council.

Further information on ‘Respecting Country: A sustainable waste strategy for First Nation communities’ is available here.

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