by Gavin Broomhead
Matthew Henger (East Arnhem Regional Council) & Mick Taylor (Sea Swift). Image: supplied
Sea Swift and East Arnhem Regional Council win prestigious award for recycling initiative
Sea Swift and East Arnhem Regional Council (EARC) are celebrating after jointly winning a prestigious award for their highly-successful recycling initiative at the 2019 NT Natural Resource Management Awards in Darwin.
The Northern Australia shipping company and EARC fought off stiff competition to clinch the Best Collaboration in Natural Resource Management Award after helping to reduce landfill waste and increase recycling in the Northern Territory’s remote coastal and island communities.
Sea Swift has supported the Council since 2017 by transporting recycling materials from the East Arnhem Land communities of Gove, Groote Eylandt, Bickerton, Umbakumba, Elcho Island, Lake Evella, Milingimbi, and Ramingining back to Darwin for processing at no cost to Council.
The two organisations have also been working to prevent toxic chemicals, heavy metals, and recyclable waste streams from entering unlined landfill sites across the region’s nine remote Indigenous communities.
The initiative aims to reduce the combined 215,641m² area of all landfills in East Arnhem communities.
Sea Swift Chief Executive Officer Fred White said their collaborative efforts had drastically reduced the risk of contamination to vulnerable ecosystems by toxic waste leachate, landfill run-offs, and litter.
“Sea Swift has provided back-loading transport to Darwin free of charge, therefore supporting EARC’s 9,026 residents to become a more sustainable region, reducing their waste to landfill, increasing their recycling, and reducing their overall ecological footprint,” said Mr White.
“What began as a few pallets of recyclable materials has rapidly expanded into bulka bags of materials leaving the port weekly.
“We’re now expanding into the use of 10-foot sea containers for the shipment of larger volumes of recyclable materials.
“We’re absolutely delighted to have teamed up with EARC on such a great community initiative, and to be recognised for our efforts with this prestigious award.”
The following items are recycled as part of the program:
Cans and bottles
E-waste (old electronics including TVs and computers)
Hard mixed plastics (wheelie bins, pipes etc.)
Plastic shrink wrap
Batteries (automotive and domestic)
Aluminium, brass, and copper wire
Waste engine oil.
East Arnhem Regional Council Chief Executive Officer Dale Keehne said EARC has become the first Northern Territory Council to be granted a container deposit scheme licence.
“This enables us to return funds from the scheme directly to residents while moving thousands of plastic bottles and cans from community, where they pose a threat to wildlife, marine animals, and the wider natural environment,” Mr Keehne said.
“The support from Sea Swift has greatly assisted Council in achieving the actions set out in our Waste Management Strategy by reducing the ecological footprint of our remote communities.
“The sponsorship reduces the financial burden of transporting recycling back to Darwin, and frees up Council funds that would otherwise be spent in the resources recovery process.
“It also allows Council to use the saving on other important programs that support the wellbeing of the East Arnhem communities.
“Sea Swift’s support and sponsorship is helping the East Arnhem Regional Council recycle the past to preserve our communities’ future.”
Sea Swift Chief Executive Officer Fred White said Sea Swift’s philosophy has always been to support every community where it operates.
“We fully support the Council’s aim to minimise landfill expansion and the negative environmental impacts to their communities, making them more sustainable into the future,” he said.
Sea Swift also sponsors several other recycling initiatives in the Northern Territory and Queensland as part of its overall community support and engagement program.
Sea Swift has depots in Darwin and Gove, as well as in Far North Queensland, and continues to expand its provision of services into the Northern Territory.
Sea Swift is one of the largest employers in Northern Australia with more than 400 staff and 30 vessels, and makes a significant contribution to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities across the region.
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