GRAND TOUR: Manager Andrew Beckett shows Energy Minister Anthony Lynham around the Cherbourg Recycling Centre.
GRAND TOUR: Manager Andrew Beckett shows Energy Minister Anthony Lynham around the Cherbourg Recycling Centre. Matt Collins

Cherbourg creating new opportunities by recycling

THE team behind Cherbourg's recycling facility has taken on every opportunity available to them, and there are more to come.

Cherbourg Aboriginal Shire Council's economic development officer, Sean Nicholson, told the Regional Economic Growth Forum attendees in Bundaberg earlier this month, there had been plenty of business opportunities.

China is a big driver for recycling opportunities, but it brought only a small percentage of the centre's business.

"We are very opportunistic," Mr Nicholson said.

The Cherbourg facility is the only recycling centre within a 150km radius and services Cherbourg, the North and South Burnett, Gympie and the Fraser Coast.

"We don't want to go too far, too fast," Mr Nicholson said.

Manager Andrew Beckett said when the recycling centre was established nine years ago it was only intended to only service Cherbourg.

"We were going to be doing recycling in Cherbourg, but for me I literally stood beyond the barbed wire fence of Cherbourg and I saw the big picture because I realised there were no recycling operations within our region," Mr Beckett said.

Mr Nicholson said the facility was built to create opportunities for the people of Cherbourg.

"We were short of housing, we were short of jobs, we were short of skills, and we decided to do something about it and make a positive move," he said.

Mr Beckett said most of the people working at the Cherbourg recycling facility were volunteers working for unemployment benefits and were at the centre two days a week.

"We want to create employment for our people, but due to all the socio-economics and the cycle our people go through, it doesn't affect everyone," he said.

"These guys I've pulled out of that cycle and said 'stick with me,' let's see what we can do together."

They turned an old tannery shed into the facility, building over the existing shed.

"It was a challenge, but we saved thousands of dollars by doing it ourselves, it gave us ownership, we were proud of our efforts," Mr Beckett said.

The centre initially turned over 250 tonnes of recycled material per year, but now goes through between two-three tonnes of material an hour.

The team has recently applied for round four of the Building Better Regions Fund, which will allow the facility to invest in more equipment to increase its production to five tonnes an hour.