U-TURN: Ipswich council to sign new recycling contract

IPSWICH City Council has backed down on its decision to send all recyclables to landfill.

Today, the council agreed to organise a short-term contractor to take the city's recycling.

It means recycling will continue to be sorted, rather than sent to landfill.

That contract is expected to be in place by next week, allowing the recycling program to continue.

It comes 48-hours after the council sensationally declared all recycling collected in the Ipswich would go to landfill because the service had become unaffordable and contamination rates were too high.

A new contract will be an interim measure only, as the council continues to search for long-term solutions.

With the recycling services set to return, after significant backlash, the council has asked residents to make a special effort to reduce the city's sky-high contamination rates.

Contamination rates were one of the main factors in the council's decision to suspend recycling.

Mayor Andrew Antoniolli said negotiations with the contractor had broken down; the council was asked to pay $150 a tonne, up from $30 a tonne to process recycling.

That deal would only have been possible if the contamination rate dropped below 25%.

Ipswich's contamination rate was sitting at 52%, the council says, compared to 7% in Brisbane City Council.

Ipswich Mayor Andrew Antoniolli said the council had been upfront with the people of Ipswich and drawn national attention to a significant issue.

"We have proudly sparked a national debate on council waste management practice," Cr Antoniolli said today.

"This is an issue of global significance, and our position is strong."

Cr Antoniolli said it was now up to the people of Ipswich to ensure they are using their yellow top bins properly.

"That means the amount of rubbish in yellow top bins must be recyclable. At present there are quite simply too many pizza boxes, plastic bags, burger wrappers and other items not fit for recycling," Cr Antoniolli said in an open letter to the people of Ipswich.

"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."

A spokesperson for Environment Minister Leeanne Enoch commended the council for talking the issue through with industry and other stakeholders, to find an appropriate way forward. 

"Residents need to feel confident in the recycling system so that they can continue to keep-up their recycling efforts," the spokesperson said.

"Australia needs a long term national solution to recycling.

"That is why I wrote to the Federal Environment Minister Josh Frydenberg last month and again this week, to communicate the urgent need for action and I am looking forward to discussing this issue at next week's Meeting of Environment Ministers.

"Queensland is doing its part and we are working with councils and industry on a zero-waste future.

"Our Government has established a Stakeholder Advisory Group that is assisting in the development of a comprehensive waste strategy, underpinned by a waste levy, which will encourage investment and innovation in the industry."

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