Plans for Ipswich recycling centre to create hundreds of jobs

The Courier-Mail champions Wanless’s exciting plans to turn a disused coal mine near Ipswich in Queensland into one of Australia’s biggest waste recycling centres and create hundreds of jobs in the process.

Glen Norris writes:

ABOUT 300 jobs are expected to be created during the construction of a giant waste recovery centre west of Ipswich that could become a recycling ‘Silicon Valley.’

Sydney-based recycling czar Dean Wanless is proposing the $50 million recycling park at a dormant coal mining site at Ebenezer about 12km southwest of Ipswich.Mr Wanless, the chief executive of the family-owned waste recovery business Wanless, said the facility would be based on the company’s existing Sydney recycling park that currently recycled half a million tonnes of waste each year.Mr Wanless held a series of community information sessions last week to explain to local residents the concept of the project, which has not yet been submitted to Ipswich City Council. As well as the 300 jobs during construction, the park would employ about 100 workers once completed.

Dean Wanless has big plans for the recycling park near Ipswich. Mr Wanless said recycling was becoming mainstream, driven by rising environmental consciousness in the business and general community.“ When I started in the business in the 80s it was not a focus,” said Mr Wanless. “It was about garbage collection, not recycling and it was only things like metal or cardboard. If it was not worth money it was not recycled.” He said at the Sydney recycling park, which the company took over in 2007, 80 per cent of materials including wood, concrete, steel and glass was recycled. He predicted that within 15 years, 80 per cent of all waste would be recycled, driven by the more environmentally aware younger generation.

According to the National Waste Report from the Department of Environment and Energy, the national recycling rate reached 62 per cent in 2017 compared to 52 per cent in 2007.

Mr Wanless said recycling produced big economic dividends.

Modelling by the Centre for International Economics suggests that a 5 per cent increase in the recycling rate could add $1 billion to Australia’s gross domestic product.

“A lot of the push is coming from young people within companies who ring up and want the waste recycled rather than going to landfill,” said Mr Wanless. “Whether you believe in global warming or not, everyone agrees that we need to clean the place up. We don’t want plastic washing up on our beaches or pollutants going down the drain.”

He said more and more uses were now being established for recycled material. For example, he was working with a council in Melbourne combining recycled toner ink, soft plastic and old motor oil into a product that could be added to asphalt to extend the life of roads. He said it was now cheaper to use recycled materials in the manufacture of steel and cardboard rather than raw materials.

“The steel manufacturers have their mills set up to handle scrap,” he said.

Other waste materials such as plastic bottles were harder to recycle due to the manufacturing process but that would change over time. For example, something like a milk bottle had a printed wrap that had to be removed during the recycling process.

Mr Wanless said the proposed recycling park could attract other related industries to create something akin to a waste recovery ‘Silicon Valley.’

Subject to council approval, construction on the site could start next year with operations launching in two years.