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11th December 2023

A “new breed’’ of recycling plant is up and sorting on the Sunshine Coast, leading the way in creating a cleaner, greener future for our region – and country.

It’s called “MuRf’’, which rolls off the tongue much better than Material Recovery Facility (MRF).

MuRF’s job is to find treasure in about 60,000 tonnes of annual household and business recyclable waste, collected from our yellow-lidded bins.

It will recover glass bottles and jars, plastic containers and steel and aluminium cans for reprocessing into new items.

The facility will also sort paper and cardboard at a staggering 98 per cent purity – the highest quality of any Australian facility.

MuRF is the wonderful result of vision from Sunshine Coast Council, and collaboration between all three levels of government, which provided a combined $40.6m in funding.

The inside of this building may look like a giant complicated 3D puzzle, but it is actually a hi-tech solution for the Sunshine Coast’s recycling future.

The recyclable waste moves through a network of more than 60 conveyor lines with screens, ballistic separators, magnets, optical sorters, eddy currents, robotic quality control and balers sorting it into three paper grades at quality levels that are in global demand, five grades of single-stream plastics, with the plastic and fibre products at market-leading 98% purity levels.

The high-tech plant was custom engineered and designed by industry leaders Recycling Design and Technologies RDT) Engineering, with parent company Re.Group task with the ongoing operation of the plant.

Re.Group managing director David Singh said the materials recovery facility represented the ‘new breed’ of high capacity, high quality recycling facilities for South East Queensland.

“The facility will feature advanced screening and sorting equipment to maximise the quantity and quality of recovered paper, cardboard, metals, plastic and glass,” Mr Singh said.

“Once sorted and baled, these materials are distributed to specialist manufacturers where they are made into a range of new products such as packaging and paper products right through to road base and outdoor furniture.”

Construction of the facility was funded through an agreement between all levels of government, with $22 million from the Queensland Government’s Recycling and Jobs Fund, $13.5 million from Council and a $5.1 million joint contribution from Australian and Queensland governments under the Queensland Recycling Modernisation Fund.

Sunshine Coast Council Mayor Mark Jamieson said the new MRF was set to deliver an even smarter solution to the region’s recycling.

“The opening of this new facility is another step towards Council’s goal to become a zero-net emissions organisation by 2041,” Mayor Jamieson said.

“Having a facility that delivers the highest quality of segregated materials fuels the circular economy and prevents more waste going to landfill.

“I acknowledge and thank the Australian and Queensland governments for their contribution and support.”

Sunshine Coast Council Environment Portfolio Councillor Maria Suarez said the facility would help Council deliver the Sunshine Coast Resource Recovery Strategy and create opportunities for the economy.

“More than 80 local jobs were created during construction with 18 new full-time positions established to run the facility,’’ Cr Suarez said.

“The new facility’s ability to sort and separate the recyclable waste to a high standard and supply desirable materials for industry will spur innovation within the private sector.

“This will in turn create more ways to use recycled materials, leading to new manufacturing processes and new jobs.

“Ultimately, it will help our healthy, smart, and creative region continue transitioning to a circular economy for managing waste.

“That’s a win:win for our environment and our economy, benefiting today’s and future generations.

“It is yet another example of how we as a Council are driving our aspiration for the Sunshine Coast to be Australia’s most sustainable region – healthy, smart, creative.”

Senator for Queensland and Assistant Minister for Regional Development, Anthony Chisholm said that many residents across the Sunshine Coast were passionate about recycling and they want to do their part to help protect the environment.

“This material recovery facility is another great example of the kind of infrastructure we need to boost recycling in Australia, while also creating jobs in the process,” he said.

“The Albanese Government’s investment means more local jobs on the Sunshine Coast, less rubbish in landfill and a healthier environment.”

Queensland Environment Minister, Leanne Linard said the Palaszczuk Government was committed to working with councils in Queensland to enhance their waste and resource recovery services as we move to a zero-waste society by 2050.

“One way we will achieve our goals is to support greater re-use, recycling and remanufacturing of recyclable materials and this new materials recycling facility will help us do that.”

Member for Nicklin, Robert Skelton said the new facility would contribute to economic growth for the region, create jobs and reduce the amount of waste going to landfill.”

“Resource recovery is of vital importance in our drive for environmental sustainability, embodying the principles of a circular economy by reusing, recycling, and repurposing materials and energy sources, thereby reducing waste generation and conserving valuable resources,” he said.

“The Palaszczuk Government is pleased to support Sunshine Coast Council in the implementation of its waste management plans, to deliver significant change in waste management right through to the household level.”

Quick summary
• It will help meet Australian and Queensland governments’ waste reduction targets.
• It also deploys optical sorting to recover five grades of single-stream plastic polymers, with robotic quality controls to help the plastic and fibre products achieve market-leading 98 per cent purity levels.
• Optical sorting will also be used to recover glass cullet to enable a portion of the kerbside glass to be recovered for “bottle-to-bottle” applications.
• Meanwhile, glass unsuitable for cullet markets will be converted to quality washed products (with grain size of sand) for use within local civil works and road projects.
• The Sunshine Coast MRF delivers a key outcome of the SEQ Waste Management Plan - a collaboration between the Queensland Government and Council of Mayors (SEQ).
• Working with Councils, the CoMSEQ SEQ Waste Management Plan aims to divert more than 1 million tonnes of waste from landfill each year by 2030, boosting environment outcomes and creating thousands of local jobs.
• It charts the trajectory for improved resource recovery across South East Queensland over the next decade by outlining an evidence-based approach for strategic, regional investment to divert waste from landfill and deliver jobs across the supply chain.

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