Provision of waste management services in the Torres Strait Island Regional Council footprint is uniquely challenging, noting that the Council serves 15 distinct communities, across 14 islands. Effective waste management is further complicated by Council operating across two biosecurity zones. Council aims to become less reliant on landfilling and to pilot an on-site waste management program that would invest in recycling, composting and responsible waste management.
Collaboration with Council and solution investment is urgently required to;
a. Address widespread legacy waste management issues, including management of historical landfills, stockpiling and environmental concerns.
b. Implement and operate complex, adaptable ongoing waste management solutions as identified in the Queensland Indigenous Waste Strategy and other planning exercises, including the identification of long term, cost-effective regional landfill solutions, treatment, logistics, recycling and disposal operations.
c. Reduce waste generation and landfill inputs by pursuing innovative and imaginative sustainability and circular economy initiatives, including in packaging and freight, local transport options, energy generation and material reuse.
Funding would enable establishment of a waste sorting and transfer station at Warraber, including a biotreatment system for organic waste as a test program for wider application. Council has actively researched contemporary waste management practices and the implementation of the new system will be an outcome of the Indigenous Waste Management Strategy. Establishment of transfer stations, bio-bins and processes across all communities will enable sorting of recyclables, composting organics and preparing general non-putrescible/non-recyclable wastes for further processing. Warraber would be a test waste site, with plans to roll out to the other communities once it is optimised. Significant savings to the Council would be realised in three years and the impact of timely, appropriate waste management would contribute to safer, cleaner communities.
Establishment of the Warraber site can commence immediately upon advice of funding availability. There is an opportunity to undertake aspects of the waste management process to other communities while the entire Warraber process is optimised. This could include provision of sorting and transfer stations. The Torres Strait Island Indigenous Waste Strategy aligns with a recently commissioned study between Council, DES and LGAQ.
Torres Strait communities share the same challenges in achieving sustainability and circular economy objectives as mainland Australian communities, however, are further constrained by location, lack of space, resources and capacity. Implementing effective and sustainable waste management in the Torres Strait is exceedingly expensive in terms of capital, operational and maintenance costs.