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Publications archive - Waste and recycling

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Key departmental publications, e.g. annual reports, budget papers and program guidelines are available in our online archive.

Much of the material listed on these archived web pages has been superseded, or served a particular purpose at a particular time. It may contain references to activities or policies that have no current application. Many archived documents may link to web pages that have moved or no longer exist, or may refer to other documents that are no longer available.

On-farm Composting of Municipal and Commercial Organics as an Environmentally and Socially SustainableResource Recovery Scheme for Rural Communities

June 2003,
Environment Australia


2 Background

2.1 Cooperating Organisations

The on-farm composting project was initiated and developed by The Organic Force in close consultation with Crows Nest Shire Council, the Eastern Downs Regional Organisation of Councils (EDROC) and Toowoomba City Council as well as local waste transport companies.

The following project partners and collaborators facilitated the successful delivery of the project:

Project Partners
The Organic Force
Crows Nest Shire Council
Tulloch Farms
Town & Country Industries Pty Ltd
Eastern Downs Regional Organisation of Councils (EDROC)
Toowoomba City Council

Project Collaborators
J.J. Richards & Sons Pty Ltd
Rosalie Shire Council
Valpack Pty Ltd
Brisbane City Council / SITA Environmental Solutions

2.2 Crows Nest Shire

Crows Nest Shire is located approximately 170 kilometres west of Brisbane and topographically forms a part of the Great Dividing Range. The shire borders Toowoomba City Council in the south and extends some 80 kilometres north of Toowoomba and is approximately 50 kilometres wide. An overview of the shire is provided in a map in Figure 1.

The rural township of Crows Nest is the administrative centre of the shire. The population centres, however, are the more suburban Highfields and Blue Mountain Heights (BMH), which are in close proximity to Toowoomba. Villages within the shire include Cabarlah, Geham, Hampton, Pechey, Haden, Meringandan and Ravensbourne. Overall, Crows Nest Shire is a predominantly rural shire that produces primarily beef cattle, small crops, flowers, timber, fruit and milk. However, its southern communities of Highfields and Blue Mountain Heights could easily be suburbs of Toowoomba. The shire hosts an army installation (Borneo Barracks) of considerable size.

2001 census data revealed a population of 10,278 within Crows Nest Shire. This figure is expected to double within the next 10 years. Highfields in particular is expanding rapidly and expected to grow by about 10% annually. The remaining areas of the shire are expected to grow by 2% annually. The shire comprises approximately 4,200 households, which equates to an average household size of 2.4 people.

Map of Crows Nest Shire

Figure 1 Map of Crows Nest Shire

Crows Nest Shire Council saw merit in the segregation of organic waste materials and the subsequent composting and beneficial use on nearby farms, and was willing to support this approach by being a partner in the proposed project. Timing of the project was very opportune since Crows Nest and other local authorities in the region, represented through EDROC, had embarked on the development of a regional waste management strategy. Crows Nest Shire Council's budget had allocated funds for the purpose of developing the strategy.

The closure of the Crows Nest landfill due to leachate threatening to contaminate Toowoomba's drinking water supply made Crows Nest Shire Council aware that their 'tips' can pose considerable risk to environmental and human well-being. Consequently, council could face significant liability claims. This experience inspired council to improve its waste management practices and look at alternatives.

Support for and participation in the on-farm composting trial was congruous with council's aim of becoming the 'Green Shire on the Downs'. It also complemented other environmentally significant activities, such as implementation of the Shire's Holistic Natural Resource Management Plan and the establishment of a wind farm.