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BILLIONS of tonnes of garbage could swamp southeast Queensland as the region's population swells, costing millions of dollars.
Waste management experts warn a cultural and legislative shift toward more recycling is needed to stem the tide and contain costs. And Sustainability Minister Kate Jones agrees, concerned the state's waste levels will keep increasing at a higher rate than population growth.
"As a community we don't often think about the unseen impact of our waste," Ms Jones said.
If not addressed, Ms Jones sees more land needed for landfill sites, a loss of green jobs and investments in recycling industries, plus more carbon emissions from landfill.
Some SEQ councils predict annual rate rises of $25 to cover waste disposal and government levies are being floated.
"Too many people think recycling is all about the yellow-topped bin," says Queensland Waste and Recyclers Association chief executive Rick Ralph.
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With 4.4 million people expected in the southeast by 2030, the mountain of household rubbish alone could reach 1.6 billion tonnes per year. A further three million tonnes a year is expected from industrial, construction and demolition waste.
State Government figures show the average Queenslander generates 374kg of household waste a year, plus 134kg of green waste and 102kg of biosolids.