Food and agricultural waste was listed as one of the problem waste streams listed as a priority area for action under the Queensland Waste Management and Resource Recovery Strategy released in July 2019. This is due to the significant contribution this type of organic matter makes to the waste stream, the potential environmental and economic impacts associated with disposal of organic waste, and the identified beneficial uses for this material. As a result, the Queensland Department of Environment and Science is developing an Organic Waste Action Plan, which will identify key actions from avoidance through to improved end-use management and market development opportunities.
This week the Queensland Farmers’ Federation (QFF) co-hosted the Future Waste Resources 2021 Convention titled Optimism and Collaboration for Resource Recovery on the Gold Coast, at which the Department hosted a workshop to present their progress on the Action Plan. The workshop provided the agricultural and resource recovery industries with an opportunity to engage with the Department on the role of the Plan and enable discussion on proposed actions before the Action Plan is released for public consultation in 2021.
It is clear the valorisation of organics provides significant opportunity for the agricultural sector. However, we have identified a level of misunderstanding by the Queensland Government regarding the circular approach to organics already undertaken by the agriculture sector. The sector has long realised the valuable nutrients historically adopting a range of on-farm strategies to retain and reuse them; and also managed the biosecurity risks posed by some of these organics resources such as manures and food wastes, with no farmer sending these valuable resources to landfill.
It is essential that the agricultural sector voice is heard throughout this process. QFF is actively taking part in the consultation process as a member of the recently appointed Organic Waste Stakeholder Advisory Group which aims to provide information and advice on the opportunities available to increase the avoidance and diversion of organic waste from landfill. It is imperative that agriculture utilises its voice to ensure that this process results in a positive outcome for the sector.