Stories—

RedWaste: Redland City Council Business Unit

As a coastal community, the Local Government Area (LGA) of Redland is particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change. Awareness of this led has led the council to involve itself since about 1998 in wider government schemes to address climate change. Redland City Council covers an area of 537 square kilometres, including mainland suburbs and six island communities in south-east Queensland on Moreton Bay (see Figure 1).

Figure 1: Redland City Council (http://gis.redland.qld.gov.au/redemap/)

Redland participated in ICLEI’s (International Council for Local Environmental initiatives), “Cities for Climate Change Program”. Funding from the Australian Federal Local Adaptation Pathways Program (LAPP) allowed the completion of a climate risk assessment. From that adaptation plan, the Council’s Climate Change Strategy – “Confronting our Climate Future” – was developed in 2011. This strategy included a commitment to reduce the waste of recoverable resources. Under the slogan “75 by 50″, Redland reset its corporate greenhouse emissions targets to: 

  • 25% lower than 1998 emissions by 2020
  • 50% lower than 1998 emissions by 2030
  • 75% lower than 1998 emissions by 2050 

These targets translate to reducing emissions by an average of 5% per year, every year.

In 2010, the Redlands 2030 Community Plan, “Creating our Future”, incorporated a keynote “Green Living” theme, whose ten goals included:

Goal 1: A culture of sustainability Redlands’ citizens, communities, business and government are world leaders in understanding and committing to positive action to protect the future of the planet.

Goal 2: Behavioural change Redlands people take personal responsibility for carefully selecting, buying, using and disposing of the materials and services which support a sustainable lifestyle.

Goal 4: Clean land, water and air Garbage, pollution, contaminated stormwater and greenhouse gas emissions are minimised, not dumped into the environment for others to clean up.

Goal 9: Leading waste management practices Governments, business and residents reduce waste disposed to landfill by generating less waste, reusing waste materials, recycling, or disposing of waste in ways that unlock or recover energy.”

(Source: ‘Creating our Future’, pp. 17-18.)

Concerned about issues of energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions, Redland decided around this time to break with traditional ways of working with regard to solid waste disposal. Reducing, reusing and recycling waste was regarded as an opportunity to divert resources from landfill. The Council established RedWaste as a new business unit responsible for delivery of solid waste management collection and disposal activities across the mainland and islands. RedWaste’s key functions include:

  • Collection of kerbside waste and co-mingled recyclables from approximately 55,000 properties
  • Optional kerbside green waste collection (mainland only)
  • Litter bin collection from streets, parks and reserves 
  • Provision of eight Waste Transfer Stations (WTS) that receive other waste and resources generated within the Redland LGA area
  • RecycleWorld tip shop that sells reusable items

(Source: Waste Reduction and Recycling Plan 2015 – 2020, p. 11).

RedWaste operates as a type 2 commercial business unit under Local Government legislation and includes both waste operations and waste planning units. Full cost pricing applies to RedWaste services, aiming to provide a commercial financial return to Council. In addition, the establishment of RedWaste brought an immediate decrease in charges for domestic consumers, with annual charges for kerbside recycling reducing from $299 per household in 2010-2011 to $288 in 2011-2012.1

The employment of a full-time Waste Education Officer demonstrates the Council’s commitment to waste reduction.

Redland Council’s ambitious “Sustainable Resources from Waste Plan” 2010-2020 is well on track. The Council’s 2013-2014 Annual Report highlighted:

  • The 10-year public place recycling project was completed in May 2014, ahead of schedule 
  • An additional 37 recycling enclosures and 35 waste enclosures were installed in parks and streets
  • A bulk recycling bin service started on North Stradbroke Island aimed at diverting 34 tonnes of recyclable materials from the Island’s businesses, community hall and waste transfer station annually 
  • The kerbside green organics collection service diverted 2,094 tonnes of green waste to 30 June 2014, from 7,244 participating properties. The material is sent to a composting facility where it is processed into soil and mulch products
  • RedWaste continued the RedSWAP waste school-based education project and the establishment of a ‘kids teaching kids’ program

Focussing on domestic waste, the three target measures of Redland’s “Waste Reduction and Recycling Plan 2015-2020” are:

  • Increase diversion of green waste
  • Minimise food waste
  • Increase diversion of kerbside recyclables.

With regard to green waste, a new kerbside green bin service was introduced in 2010. There has been an enthusiastic take-up of green waste bins across the mainland, based on an average annual growth of 13.5% since 2011. Some 2094 tonnes of green waste were collected by the kerbside green waste service in 2013-2014. As the cost of processing green waste is cheaper than the cost of landfill, the Council receives a positive financial contribution, in addition to a recycling benefit. 

Redland is piloting a project to reduce food waste in the general waste bins in partnership with Griffith University. Through community-based social marketing, specific strategies are being developed to encourage new behaviours. The “Waste Not Want Not” campaign, launched in 2017, is designed to show residents how they can reduce the amount of food they waste.

Kerbside recovery commenced in Redland in 1996. Since 2011, the percentage of recyclable material diverted from kerbside collection has increased from 21.93% to 25.5% in 2013-2014 and 25.9% in 2016-2017.

The total domestic tonnage of waste sent to landfill per capita/year has reduced over the same timeframe from 437 tonnes per capita in 2010-2011 to 377.29 tonnes in 2013-14 and 367 tonnes in 2016-2017.

RedWaste is well on the way to meeting its performance targets. It has creatively disrupted former solid waste practices, particularly amongst local households and schools. Previous kerbside practices of throwing all comingled waste into one bin have been replaced, in many instances, by waste separation regimes including green waste regimes and food waste regimes made possible by the broader socio-technical landscape of RedWaste’s strategic and operational framework which ranges from the National Waste Policy to Redland Council’s Waste Plan and RedWaste’s own Performance Plan. 

Our Redland interviewee believes that the success “comes down to timing and budget”. Being part of ICLEI’s “Cities for Climate Change Program” and obtaining funds from the “Local Adaptation Pathways Program” enabled a strong basis to take ideas further. But as our interviewee comments:

there has been a number of drivers but now it is the right timing, and the right climate, and the right sort of appetite to do something.

Redland interviewee

Our story only covers Redland Council’s RedWaste practices concerned with domestic or municipal solid waste. We recognise, as in the diagram, that domestic waste is only part of RedWaste’s core business. For information on practices dealing with commercial and industrial waste or tradewaste, construction and demolition waste, regulated waste, disaster waste and dumping and littering, please see the “Waste Reduction and Recycling Plan 2015-2020”.

Intersecting Regimes and Practices: Redland City Council – RedWaste

1 Charges for a 240 litre bin plus a 240 litre recycling bin