Habana community creates income stream from recycling

Issued: 18 Mar 2021

The Habana & Districts Progress Association wanted to make improvements to their community hall and knew that if they could create a sustainable income stream and collect as many containers as possible to exchange for refunds, they could fund future activities, including installing an indoor toilet in the hall.

The community organisation used its $9,999 grant from the Department of Environment and Science’s small scale infrastructure grants scheme to buy signage, a large donation bin for the containers, and bag frames, among other equipment, to create an additional place for people to take their containers.

HDPA Secretary Palmina Rae said with Habana being 25km from Mackay – and the nearest refund point – it meant that many Habana locals didn’t opt for recycling their containers.

“By increasing the number of refund points and by being able to collect more containers, thanks to this small-scale infrastructure grant, we have grown our community of recyclers and maximised our income stream from recycling,” she said.

Ms Rae said many local small businesses benefited through the HDPA buying infrastructure materials from them.

“We’re now able to improve our hall by adding an indoor toilet and bathroom – and we can leave the outdoor dunny to the frogs and spiders!” she said.

“Also, we have spent the money in our local community, benefiting small businesses and the local economy.

“We bought our large bulk donation bin from Cameron at Rural Welding and Fabrication, a local Habana business, for a cost of $2272. We bought five small cages that were made by Laurence at LG and KA Bonaventura.

“Our two bag frames were made by Sam from Habana Bay Farming, and they have been customised to perfectly fit our one tonne fertiliser bags. We bought our trailer from Mackay Trailers for $2135 and on it goes, as we contribute to the local economy and the sustainability of small businesses in our area,” Ms Rae said.

Queenslanders have recycled more than 3 billion containers since the state’s popular Containers for Change scheme began two years ago and now community groups are seizing the opportunity to create new container donation points and a sustainable source of income, thanks to grants from the Department of Environment and Science.

The DES small-scale container collection grants have helped community groups buy infrastructure such as trailers, cages and bins, that will become a new donation point for containers and help community groups with much needed fundraising opportunities.

Minister for the Environment and Great Barrier Reef Meaghan Scanlon said the grants were vital tools that helped small groups to establish a source of income that empowered them to continue the work that directly benefits their local community.

“There are so many positives here – it’s more than win-win; it’s win-win-win,” Ms Scanlon said.

“Firstly, our recycling message is being amplified as local community groups encourage their community to recycle, to support their income stream. This has the direct benefit of reducing litter in local waterways and reducing containers in landfill.

“Secondly, local businesses benefit when the grant is disbursed.

“Thirdly, the good works of the community organisations can continue. In these challenging times, fundraising is becoming more and more difficult. These grants provide vital incomes that allow small community groups to continue to help those in need,” Ms Scanlon said.

Almost $1 million in small-scale infrastructure grants, of up to $10,000 each, has been given to about 100 charities and community groups for the purpose of buying equipment that would support the creation of donation points.

This first round of grants has helped the Containers for Change program extend container collection activities into smaller areas and communities.

The State Government’s Containers for Change scheme is operated by not-for-profit organisation Container Exchange (COEX) and CEO Ken Noye said he was delighted to see even more community groups maximise their involvement with the scheme.

“We know that community groups have really struggled this year as many of their regular sources of fundraising were put on hold due to COVID-19 restrictions,” Mr Noye said.