Council's $1.5m recycling education spend falls flat

THE council has spent more than $1.5 million on recycling education campaigns in the past eight years, yet contamination rates have been steadily climbing.

According to Ipswich City Council contamination rates in recycling waste almost doubled in the first quarter of 2018, from 29% to 52%.

The figures were supplied by two different contractors, the council says.

In 2014, only 15% of recycling waste was deemed contaminated.

While the figures on contamination have changed dramatically between then and the first quarter of this year, the council says its spending on education campaigns hasn't changed.

The average spend per year is $200,000.

Little information has been offered on why contamination rates suddenly spiked when the new contractor took over, however, Mayor Andrew Antoniolli has suggested the timing coincides with ABC programs on the waste industry.

China's decision to limit the importation of recycling, along with strict guidelines on contamination rates, has put pressure on the waste industry.

Much of Australia's recycling waste was being sent to China to be reprocessed and Ipswich City Council's recent contractor, Polytrade Recyclables, relied on an export business model.

Last month, Ipswich drew national attention after the council declared it would send all recycling to landfill after failed negotiations with its contractor, appointed at the start of this year.

The council is expected to settle on a new short-term contract today after almost six weeks of sending recycling straight to landfill.

Under the new arrangement, loads deemed overly contaminated will still be dumped.

Although a new container refund scheme will be introduced to Queensland in November, Ipswich council has not and will not stockpile any recycling waste.

A council spokesperson said the council did not have appropriate facilities for stockpiling.

Education campaign spend snapshot

  • 2010-11: $190,000
  • 2014-15: $210,000
  • 2017-18:$221,000

**Figures supplied by Ipswich City Council