RUBBISH PROBLEM: Environment Minister Leeanne Enoch was in Bundaberg for a forum discussing the waste solution for Australia.
RUBBISH PROBLEM: Environment Minister Leeanne Enoch was in Bundaberg for a forum discussing the waste solution for Australia. Ashley Clark

RUBBISH WOES: Search for trash fix starts in Bundy

WE DO the right thing by putting our recycling into the yellow council bins each week but where exactly does it all go?

Until recently, China has been accepting some one million tonnes of recycling waste from Australia each year but has now implemented strict regulations, leaving our rubbish in limbo.

The move has caused huge issues across the nation and stakeholders are scrambling to come up with a solution on how to minimise the amount of recycling Aussies create and what to do with it.

Waste industry stakeholders, including Environment Minister Leeanne Enoch, met in Bundaberg recently at a forum to discuss how to tackle the problem.

"I want to encourage out-of-the-box thinking and group dialogue on smarter, innovative options to better manage, reuse and recycle waste,” Ms Enoch said.

"There are a number of things we are already doing to reduce the creation of waste.

"Those include the banning of single use plastic bags from July 1 and in November the Container Refund Scheme will come into play.”

Now, Ms Enoch said more ideas were needed to be turned into actions, and improvements at a local level could help the Federal Government in their work towards a national long-term solution.

To help find a solution, last month the Palaszczuk Government announced it would develop a new resource recovery and waste management strategy, underpinned by a waste levy.

"We have made the commitment that a waste levy will not cost Queenslanders any more to put their wheelie bins out,” Ms Enoch said.

She said exactly how the waste levy would be implemented was still being discussed but should be introduced by the first quarter of next year.

Ms Enoch said the levy brought with it some positives including the possibility of new industry infrastructure where "we will see new jobs and new industry being created in the future”.

"It's about hypothecating back to industry, being able to create jobs and support recycling in our state,” she said.

Waste Recycling Industry Queensland Chief Executive Officer Rick Ralph echoed those sentiments.

"More than 50 cents in every $100 is generated fromt he waste and recycling industry,” he said.

"The decision to change the recycling game is a marvellous opportunity to increase those jobs across Australia.

Mr Ralph said the waste issue was Australia-wide and finding a solution was "vital”.

"The challenges are contamination... we have to simplify the message and build confidence in the community that recycling is functioning well but needs a retweak,” he said.

"We have to tell residents what they can and can't put into the bins going forward.

"This problem is not going to go away, we need to find solutions...”

Minister Enoch said moving forward, waste management needed a "seismic shift”.

"It's not just about patching up what we have always done it is actually about think very differently about where we are going to see ourselves in the future,” she said.

The Environment Minister will today meet in Melbourne to discuss the findings of the forum.

The problem

  • 1.25 million tonnes of recycled material was sent from Australia to China in the 2016-2017 year.
  • Last year the manufacturing giant warned it would ban the importation of certain recyclable plastics.
  • Known as the National Sword policy, the China ban covers 24 categories of solid waste.
  • At the start of January 2017, however, China began to stringently enforce restrictions on the importation of recycled materials.


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