Renders of the $400 million proposed facility at Swanbank.
Renders of the $400 million proposed facility at Swanbank. Contributed

Let us test waste to energy plant details: REMONDIS

OPINION:

THE waste management industry in Ipswich is receiving a hammering from individuals and organisations who unfairly label Ipswich as a "dumping ground” and are rallying against "incinerators”.

What is being ignored is the fact that all of us, including these individuals and organisations, are part of the problem the waste management industry is solving.

It is disingenuous to put a red-top wheelie bin on the footpath each week, or deposit litter in a council bin, or discard scraps from a fast food meal, and then wash your hands of the processes that collect, sort and manage that waste.

It's the community's waste. We are just responsible for managing it through resource recovery and recycling, and by landfilling.

Every resident and worker in Ipswich - including me - contributes to the region's waste management challenge.

Ipswich does not exist in isolation as a community or economy - about 50 per cent of Ipswich income earners take home a pay packet from a job outside of Ipswich in south east Queensland, 40 per cent of them in Brisbane.

Some of the waste those Ipswich residents generate across the region while they are at home, at work, out for lunch or dinner, or attending a sporting or community event, makes its way to Ipswich waste management facilities as part of a regional solution.

The industry is a long-term and legitimate part of the region's economy. It contributes almost $75 million to the Ipswich economy - $1 in every $100 - and pays almost $2 out of every $100 of rates revenue raised by Ipswich City Council.

The industry in Ipswich pays $27 million in annual wages and salaries and provides about 430 jobs - one in every 165 jobs in Ipswich - supporting workers and their families with safe, secure and reliable jobs.

Labelling this as "dumping ground” work is demeaning.

Zero net waste should be encouraged, but that must happen where the waste and packaging is generated, including at home.

The Ipswich community is producing more waste - up 14.7 per cent from 2017 to 2018, from 108,000 tonnes to 123,890 tonnes of household waste per year. Thirty-six per cent, 45,000 tonnes, of Ipswich's annual red-top wheelie bin waste is disposed of by REMONDIS in its Swanbank landfill, and a further 240,000 tonnes of the region's commercial and industrial waste is landfilled at the site.

We can do better to manage the waste the community generates and that is why REMONDIS is proposing to build a recycling park and energy from waste facility at the Swanbank landfill.

REMONDIS proposes to divert between 300,000 and 500,000 tonnes of waste a year from its landfill. The proposal does not rely on additional waste streams coming to site, instead it will divert existing waste streams for beneficial reuse.

REMONDIS estimates that of the 100 per cent of red-top wheelie bin waste that it now landfills at Swanbank, 97 per cent will instead be beneficially reused either recycled or to generate energy.

Only 3 per cent of the residual from the process will make its way to environmentally-regulated landfill.

REMONDIS does not expect everyone to agree with what it is proposing, but it does ask for the right to suggest a better solution and then to test that against strict environmental benchmarks.

We ask for informed, considered community discussion and will activity contribute to that.

We all generate waste. We all put out wheelie bins. We all want the best community and environmental outcomes from the management of our waste.

Allow REMONDIS to undertake the detailed studies it must do before any government will consider an application for a recycling park and energy from waste facility, and let the application be judged on its merits and on science.

BRET COLLINS

REMONDIS QLD operations and business general manager