Queensland Council claims record in war against landfill

Cairns regional council in far north Queensland has reported a new record in landfill reduction, with sixty-five per cent of its total waste tonnage diverted in 2022.

The figures are contained in Council’s 2022 State of Environment report, tabled at a meeting of the planning and environment committee on Wednesday.

The report shows a total of 102,534 tonnes of waste was received by Council in 2021/22, or 583 kg of waste per person, marking the highest tonnage on record.

Source: State of Environment 2022 report, Cairns Regional Council

However, sixty-five per cent of that, or 36,200 tonnes, was diverted from landfill.

Council says despite receiving the most waste on record in the 2021/22 financial year, the amount that ended up in landfill is the lowest in ten years.

It credits the success to its $11.3 million investment in a new high-tech recycling facility which officially opened in May 2021.

New recycling facility impacting on landfill

The Materials Recovery Facility, which also received state government funding, includes a shed, glass-sorting and processing plant, and can manage up to 30,000 tonnes of recycling year.

Last year it achieved an 81 per cent recovery rate – an increase of 30 per cent on the facility it replaced.

The facility will initially service the Cairns LGA but may be suitable for accepting recyclable materials from the broader Far North Queensland Region for the next 10-15 years, according to planning and development consultants Urban Sync, which acted on behalf of Cairns Regional Council in relation to the project.

Unique responsibility

Cairns Deputy Mayor and Chair of the Planning and Environment Committee, Terry James says Council has a special responsibility to the environment because of its location between World Heritage assets the Great Barrier Reef and Wet Tropic Rainforests.

Cr James says the report shows positive progress in Council’s management of its environmental footprint.

“Council is focused on more efficient waste and resource recovery services by reducing waste to landfill, maximising resource recovery and growing the regional economy,” he said.

“We view our waste as a valuable resource which can help create new jobs and growth in the smart green economy.

The report also shows 1278 electric vehicles were registered in the region and that   Cairns was also able to decrease its greenhouse gas emissions by 7.5 per cent over the past year.

Council has signed a deal which will see 80 of its largest facilities source 100 per cent of their electricity from renewables from July next year.

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