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  • Version August 2020
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  • Create Date August 21, 2020
  • Last Updated November 11, 2020

Waste education in Queensland report

Why is waste education important? Currently, the amount of waste that Queenslanders are producing is ‘growing faster than our population’ and is impacting our environment and economy. Well-designed school education programs are a valuable and cost effective way to influence community understanding about complex issues such as sustainable waste management—and to ‘normalise’ sustainable waste behaviours. This report outlines the findings of a consultation project conducted from January to June 2019 to inform the development of waste education programs. This version of the original project report aims to provide stakeholders with information and ideas they can use to develop or evaluate waste education projects in their jurisdiction or region. It was updated in August 2020. The Queensland Government has not approved or endorsed this report.

Summary of findings
Schools and Early Learning Centres can make a substantial contribution to reducing waste to landfill in schools and influencing waste behaviours in their schools and the wider community by:
• taking a whole-school approach to implementing effective waste management practices in their operations
• partnering with parents and community members to improve waste management in the school
• incorporating sustainable waste management topics and concepts into the curriculum
• facilitating ‘kids teaching kids’ programs and stewardship leadership training for motivated students
• supporting administration, teacher and staff professional development and networking in sustainable waste management.

State and local government agencies and other organisations can support schools to improve their waste management practices by:
• providing school administrators with knowledge, tools and training to minimise their waste to landfill and maximise their revenue from reuse or recycling
• providing a curated collection of locally relevant curriculum resources and professional development for teachers and pre-service teachers
• facilitating professional networks to enable waste educators and school staff to share ideas both locally and state-wide. This could include funding part-time
facilitators to support local schools directly to implement their waste management program.
• addressing the specific needs for waste education in rural and remote areas including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities
• providing training (face-to-face or online) for motivated students to gain leadership skills
• supporting ‘kids teaching kids’ programs in school clusters
• recognising excellence in sustainable waste management in schools
• sharing examples that show how to incorporate enterprising TAFE-linked and business programs in schools
• creating a portal to enable staff to find the service providers and resources they require to implement waste education and practices in their school
• curating a waste educators’ toolkit for council staff working with schools
• creating an online library of locally relevant videos and images for teachers, waste educators and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities
• investing in a licence for pre-made community and school waste education resources e.g. Love Food, Hate Waste.

While some Queensland councils and other organisations have already implemented many of these actions in their regions, it is not realistic that all these recommendations could be implemented state-wide in the short-term, or even medium-term. However, this list provides a useful smorgasbord of ideas to begin to address the waste crisis in Queensland.