Press Conference - Sunshine Coast
ROB SKELTON: G’day. I’m Rob Skelton, I’m the Member for Nicklin. I’m here at Earthborn down in Chevallum and we’re looking at a wonderful initiative by the Federal and State Governments to provide funding for and education for the organic – food organic waste loop. For those that aren’t aware of that, that’s turning our food scraps into these soil nutrients and soil products to be used on our gardens. This is an important thing in terms of the environment and also another economic bonus for our region.
MEAGHAN SCANLON: Thanks, Rob. Thanks for having us in your electorate and, of course, I acknowledge Anthony Chisholm who’s the Federal Representative. It’s great to be working with a new Federal Labor Government on some really important environmental reforms.
We know that half of your general waste bin is made up of food and garden scraps, and right now a lot of that product is going to landfill, and we want to change that. We want to change that for a number of reasons. We know that when this product is going to landfill and not being recycled we’re losing job opportunities that we could be creating. It’s also creating harmful methane emissions.
So as part of our organic strategy and our broader waste plan we’re working with both Local Government and industry to try and make sure that we can increase the amount of organics infrastructure that we have and also roll out kerbside collection services so that households can turn their food and garden organic waste into compost that will then be put on our gardens.
Today I’m really pleased to be announcing with the Federal Government, $10 million where we’ll be partnering with industry across the state to expand organics facilities. So there are a number of facilities that already exist here in Queensland that are doing great work, and what we want to do is help them expand the amount of infrastructure they have to take in even more product and do that at best practice. So delivering things like in-vessel composting machines that limit the amount of odour in our wider community as well as delivering a better result for our natural environment.
So wonderful to be at Earthborn today. They’re an organisation here in Queensland that are creating jobs. We know that the recycling industry can create three times as many jobs than if we put that product into landfill. So that’s why this investment is so incredibly important. And, as I said, it delivers that great environmental benefit as well.
I’ll hand over to Anthony now and then we’ll do questions.
ANTHONY CHISHOLM: Thanks, Minister. And it’s good to be here with you, and also to Rob Skelton for having us in his electorate as well. Thanks to Ash and Earthborn for talking through the process and for me to get a better understanding of how important this facility is for the Local Region.
I think these investments that the Minister has announced and the Federal Government are pleased to partner with them are really important for local economies. There’s an increase in public awareness around the importance of using these facilities because it’s good for the environment but also it’s the long-term benefit of soils when you see the by-products that are used as a result of this.
So businesses like Earthborn understand that, but also increasingly the public understand it. So I think it’s important that governments do their job. And the announcement today shows that there are State and Federal governments that want to step up so that the public can have confidence that when they use these facilities they’re being used appropriately and the outcomes are good for the environment as well.
The $1.5 million in joint funding for this project here will increase the amount of diverted food or organic waste by 22,000 tonnes per year. So that is significant. That’s going to be good for households in this region. It’s going to be good for the environment. It’s going to be good for soils. It’s going to be good for the economy. And I think that this announcement today shows you that you have a federal and state government that are working constructively together to support good projects like this.
Once again, I’d like to thank Earthborn for hosting us today, but also imparting their experience and expertise as well so that I could get a better understanding of how these facilities work and the important role they play in creating good environmental outcomes at the same time. Thank you.
JOURNALIST: So that $10 million investment across the state, what facilities are they, and whereabouts are those?
MEAGHAN SCANLON: Yeah, so we can get you that information. I announced recently a facility in Yatala that will be receiving funding. There’s obviously this one on the Sunshine Coast, and we’ll get you those other ones. As I said, this is really about trying to increase the amount of capacity so that we can get more and more food and garden organic waste from landfill and divert it and recycle it. But it’s also about delivering a better benefit for the community as well, so those in-vessel composting facilities also reduce the amount of odour on the natural environment in those communities.
JOURNALIST: What’s an in-vessel facility?
MEAGHAN SCANLON: So we can get you some pictures, but it’s essentially an enclosed sort of enclosed system. So where you have communities that might be closer to a particular facility, it means that there’s less of an impact and it also is really what we think is world’s best practice. And so we’re looking at, you know, how do we work with industry to make sure we’re delivering the very best for the environment but also the very best for our community as well.
JOURNALIST: When can Earthborn start to see this funding really come through and provide those benefits you’re talking about?
MEAGHAN SCANLON: Yeah, so this is an industry and government partnership. So Earthborn will also need to contribute to this project, like all of the other proponents will. So, of course, they need to work through contracts and things like that as well. But we know that there’s going to be increased demand. We’ve set some pretty ambitious targets here in Queensland. We’ve got to halve the amount of food waste by 2030, and we’re working with councils right now to rollout kerbside collection FOGO services. So we know that there is going to be a lot of work in this space, but, of course, that detail needs to be worked through.
JOURNALIST: And I guess for those people out there who actually might say that the funding could have been better spent somewhere else, what would you say to them?
MEAGHAN SCANLON: Well, look, I think, you know, the Queensland community wants to see jobs and they want to see our environment protected. And right now we’re putting, you know, a lot of organic material into landfill that’s creating methane emissions, and it’s, you know, limiting the job opportunities that we have. So this is about actually stimulating the economy and making sure that we do things more wisely in the future.
JOURNALIST: It says this new upgraded facility will process an extra 22,000 tonnes of organic waste.
MEAGHAN SCANLON: Yep.
JOURNALIST: How much does it currently do?
MEAGHAN SCANLON: I’d have to check that with Ash, sorry. So this will deliver two new composting tunnels. That expansion allows them to take in more product. But obviously they’re already doing an enormous amount of work here. So I can get that detail.
JOURNALIST: This is what you asked, Ben, so talking about that funding and talking about, you know, the 20,000 or 22,000, you know, tonnes of compost, or whatever it was, I guess talking about this funding, what is it actually going to do for this facility? What kind of, you know, upgrades are they actually going to get from this money?
MEAGHAN SCANLON: Yeah, so this will allow them to deliver two new composting tunnels. It allows them to create more jobs because you’re creating more product that needs to be turned in to compost and then sold at your local Bunnings store or being put on to your local gardens. So it really is a great win for the Sunshine Coast region to have an industry like this that’s creating jobs and expanding because of the changes of policy that are very clearly showing that we want to see this sort of waste no longer go to landfill and instead be recycled.
JOURNALIST: I assume that the company would upgrade the facilities if they thought it was commercially viable to do so. So why does it need taxpayer subsidisation to do that?
MEAGHAN SCANLON: Yeah, so we brought in a waste levy here in Queensland, and so the funds that we derive through the waste levy get re-invested into areas like recycling. That was the intent of the waste levy scheme – was firstly to stop the dump trucks from coming from other states, because we were one of the only mainland states that didn’t have a waste levy, but also to make sure that we use that money and we re-invest it in actually establishing some of these facilities. So there are both policy levers that we need to change but also investment to make sure that industry is at the standard and has the capability to take on the products that we need them to.
JOURNALIST: And what process was run for Earthborn to get this money?
MEAGHAN SCANLON: Yeah, so this was part of the Federal Government’s Healthy Soils program. So the Queensland Government has co-contributed to this program, as have industry. So, you know, it’s great to see that we’re able to now announce the $10 million that will be given to Queensland businesses who will also be contributing themselves to take on more capacity.
JOURNALIST: And how many jobs did you say would be created here?
MEAGHAN SCANLON: I think the estimates are through this investment they’ll be able to create six additional jobs. But, of course, we expect to see many more jobs to come because of the changes that we’re going to see with diverting food and garden organic waste away from landfill and instead being recycled. Excellent, thank you.
The Food Waste for Healthy Soils Fund is a Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water initiative, for more information visit its website.