Minister for Environment and Heritage Protection and Minister for National Parks and the Great Barrier Reef
The Honourable Steven Miles
A program to recycle more than 1000 tonnes of sugar cane fertiliser bags each year and turn them into park benches has already created full-time jobs for north Queenslanders.
Environment Minister Dr Steven Miles said the 150,000 bags collected in the past 12 months would be recycled into, among other items, wood replacement products by two Queensland companies.
“This is a great outcome all round. Creating jobs and improving the environment,” Dr Miles said.
“While the Queensland Government was pleased to provide $50,000 in funding, this wouldn’t have been possible without the support of growers, industry organisation Farm Waste Recovery and fertiliser producers Impact Fertilisers and Incitec Pivot”.
Dr Miles said local Councils in north Queensland cane growing areas provided 23 local collection points convenient for growers such as fertiliser re-sellers.
More than 82 thousand bags were collected for recycling from these 23 sites from Mossman to Sarina.
“This work provided local, full-time jobs for seven staff, who continue to work on the collection and processing of the bags,” Dr Miles said.
“The bags were recycled into 247 tonnes of plastic, which was enough to make more than 1300 park benches.
“We are delighted with cane farmers’ response to this program, which saves a tremendous amount of plastic going to landfill and produces a usable resource after recycling.”
More than 275,000 one-tonne bags and two million 25kg bags are used by the sugarcane industry every year.
Dr Miles said the pilot program had been so successful the government was seeking to build on it – and create more jobs – by recycling other agricultural plastics such as trickle tape, banana bags, stock feed bags and plastic mulch.
“For example, we are working with Queensland Strawberries and Regional Development Australia (Moreton Bay) Inc on solutions for recycling trickle tape and agricultural plastic mulch from strawberry farms,” he said.
Dr Miles commended cane farmers who participated in the pilot program and who were still actively returning bags for recycling.
“When it comes to agricultural plastics we are keen to partner with the agricultural sector to identify any challenges and market opportunities for products from recycled agricultural plastics,” he said.