National Recycling Week: Council MRF tours offer valuable education for communities

Published: 9th November 2021

Queensland councils are leading the way on recycling education in the state, offering communities answers to the question of where their recyclables go once they’re picked up from their yellow bin on the kerbside.

Many councils across Queensland host regular tours of their Materials Recovery Facilities (MRFs), but this National Recycling Week from 8-12 November, tours and education programs are ramping up to show community members just how important it is to use the correct bin.

Mackay is one council that is offering tours of its MRF this National Recycling Week, with the message ‘recycling: it’s not rubbish’.

The front of the Mackay MRF

Mackay's MRF

Mackay Mayor Greg Williamson said the tours were a great way to see what happens to our recyclables and why it’s important to recycle right.

“The MRF is a state-of-the-art facility that sorts our recyclables, including paper, cardboard, aluminium cans, steel cans, glass and recyclable plastics, and sends them to market to be turned into new products that we use every day," he said.

“By making sure only recyclables go in your yellow-lidded bin, you can help reduce the amount of waste going to landfill and ensure good quality recyclables are sent for manufacturing.

“Our recycling is certainly not rubbish."

During the tours, visitors can view via CCTV and an upstairs viewing room how the facility separates all the recyclables that come in from around the region every day.

The Mackay MRF processes 7727 tonnes of recyclables from Mackay region kerbside bins in the 2020-2021 financial year. It also processed an additional 11,897 tonnes from commercial and other regional council collections.

As well as hosting tours of physical facilities, some councils have created virtual tours of their MRFs for people to view online.

Townsville City Council has produced a stellar video walking viewers through their MRF, from the initial stage of recycling refuse trucks pulling up to the facility, right through to individual baled products at the end.

Similarly, Cairns Regional Council in building its new MRF created a time lapse video to show viewers the ins and outs of the facility.

The Cairns facility officially opened in May 2021 and recorded an average 85 per cent recovery rate in June this year over the previous six months, compared to 59 per cent at the former MRF.

The tours, whether in person or virtual, provide community members with greater transparency over where their recycling goes, motivating people to recycle right.

Councils working together in SEQ for a new MRF

Councils are also working together on recycling solutions, with three South East Queensland councils uniting in a bid to apply for funding to help the business case for a new local recycling and waste recovery facility.

Logan City Council, Ipswich City Council and Redland City Council have formed the SEQ Sub-Regional Waste Alliance, which represents more than 700,000 residents.

They have now lodged a joint funding application for a regional MRF through the Queensland Recycling Modernisation Fund (QRMF), which has up to $40 million to invest in recycling solutions across the state.

It would recycle waste from all three councils.

Mayors from the three councils within the Alliance said the joint MRF project could stimulate investment, create jobs and help develop a sustainable local circular economy.

Ipswich Mayor Teresa Harding said a combined approach to recycling would help all councils in the Alliance deliver on the Queensland Government’s waste diversion targets.

“We have a shared goal within this Alliance to build a Material Recovery Facility and create a new, collaborative approach to recycling and waste management that will bring numerous benefits to our communities,” Cr Harding said.

“We need the Queensland and Australian governments to support the Alliance in delivering this important project for the SEQ region, the state and the nation.”

City of Logan Mayor Darren Power said partnering with other councils makes sense economically and environmentally.

“I know our community wants a cleaner, greener environment and we are delighted to be working with neighbouring councils to explore new and more efficient ways to recycle,” Cr Power said.

“This is a great opportunity for the other levels of government to support us through the QRMF to achieve positive outcomes for all three communities.”

Redland City Mayor Karen Williams said Council recognises the importance of waste infrastructure in the improvement of waste management on Redlands Coast.

“In planning for the future, we need to ensure economies of scale by collaborating with others and planning for the right infrastructure and services at the right time,” Cr Williams said.

“We now have the opportunity to work with other South East Queensland councils to explore opportunities for shared resource recovery infrastructure and programs and I look forward to positive waste management outcomes for our communities.”