We need to be clear that Ipswich City Council’s temporary stop on recycling has been as unavoidable as it has disappointing for us all.
It is also important to know that we’re hearing you loud and clear, and we know you want a clean and green future.
In the past 24 hours, we are utilising a provision in the Local Government Act to employ a short-term contractor to process recycling.
And that we will do. But we need your help. As a city, we need to reduce contamination levels as a matter of absolute urgency.
That means the amount of rubbish in yellow top bins must be recyclable. At present there are quite simply too many food scraps, plastic bags, burger wrappers and other items not fit for recycling.
This has never been an issue solely of money. This is a complex series of issues which includes waste contamination, cost, and a vision to the future for our city.
This week, council has shown its intent to seek alternative ways to deal with waste. Since then, the State Government has promised to bring forward a waste levy.
The State has also agreed to fund waste to energy projects. And the industry is agreeing to work with us to explore innovative options.
It is clear we are on the front foot when it comes to leading the future. We are intent on working with the waste industry and other innovators to find ways to best deal with a global crisis.
Our decision has brought to the fore a national debate. The war on waste has appeared on the front page of newspapers from Launceston in the south, to Wagga Wagga, to Cairns in the north.
Ipswich has for some time been exploring green waste options. We are not content to be considered the waste capital of Australia. Rather, we are intent on becoming the resource and recycling capital of Australia.
There is a need for us to be honest with ourselves. And there is a need to be open and honest with the people of Ipswich.
This is undoubtedly a national issue which will increasingly affect all councils, and consequently each and every person who relies on the services of waste management.
An education campaign might indeed reduce the amount of contamination, but it won’t solve the problem. Neither will money solve the problem.
New waste management techniques and methodologies might include a refined recycling program.
They will almost certainly include a tender process which we hope will lead to this city becoming a leader in waste-to-energy research, development and delivery.
I welcome ideas from waste experts, companies and innovators as we determine the right way forward for Ipswich because we are absolutely committed to solving the problem which has been thrust upon us.
In the meantime, I urge you – the proud people of Ipswich – to do the right thing.
Be ever-diligent when you separate your recycling products as you normally would, find ways to minimise and reduce waste, and trust that we as a council are spending every working minute to construct an environmentally-friendly path to the future.
Yours most sincerely
Mayor Andrew Antoniolli