Ipswich Mayor Andrew Antoniolli today told the media Ipswich residents' recycling had been going to landfill for a month before the decision to continue landfill recyclable material, indefinitely, was made.
Ipswich Mayor Andrew Antoniolli today told the media Ipswich residents' recycling had been going to landfill for a month before the decision to continue landfill recyclable material, indefinitely, was made. Helen Spelitis

EXPLAINED: Why contamination rates in recycling matter

RECYCLING waste collected in the Ipswich area is severely contaminated, the council says, rendering paying the extra $2 million "not an option".

Ipswich City Council says 52% of material going into recycling bins is contaminated.

For the council's waste contractor to accept the waste, the contamination rate needs to be 25% or less.

Today, Mayor Andrew Antoniolli said Ipswich residents' recycling waste had already been going to landfill for the past four weeks.

He said the council had been "unable to meet contamination rate" requirements in that time.

That's because contamination rates increased dramatically in the past four weeks, the council says, leaving no option other than to send the recyclable goods to landfill.

No explanation for that spike has been offered.

The decision to suspend contract negotiations and send recyclables to landfill, indefinitely, was made on Monday.

High levels of contamination mean, even if the council absorbed the added cost of $2 million, the contractor would not accept the recycling waste, in its current state.

Across Queensland, the average contamination rate is between 8% to 15%.

 

 

Cr Antoniolli said he suspected those figures weren't accurate and "in reality, there is a high level of contamination".

In Brisbane, the official contamination rate is 7%.

Brisbane City Council says 93% of all materials placed into the yellow-top bins are recycled, due to that low contamination rate.

The capital city council's Field Services Chairman Councillor Peter Matic said there would be no change to Brisbane's recycling program and the Brisbane City Council last year renegotiated its recycling contract for a another six years, taking it to 2024.

"We know our levels are accurate because council's waste trucks go to the recycling company to collect those contaminated materials," Brisbane Cr Matic said.

"More than 80 per cent of goods collected from kerbside recycling are processed right here in Brisbane.

"Paper and glass are recycled at processing plants in Brisbane, including glass processed into asphalt, and no goods are stockpiled.

"The majority of plastics collected are recycled into plastic bottles at a NSW-based recycling plant.

"Around two percent of plastics are unable to be recycled locally and are purchased by Chinese markets, and this is expected to continue." 

Ipswich Cr Antoniolli said rates of contamination in Ipswich had been slowly increasing and maintained other councils would soon face the same problem as Ipswich.

"To get a new contract means we will be paying five times the amount of money," Cr Antoniolli said.

"When other councils come to that point in their contracts they're going to be facing the same financial dilemma.

"We are protecting our residents from that cost. We're looking for new solutions."

The council says;

To drop the contamination rate, we need to reduce by half the amount of pizza boxes, food waste, plastic bags, disposable nappies, grass clippings and garden waste, broken plates, coat hangers, light bulbs, dirty tissues and serviettes, and foam packaging.



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