NSW councils are calling for the NSW Government to work with local governments and show vision for the future of organic reuse following a ban on the recycling of mixed waste organic materials.
The Environment Protection Authority has found the material – once used to improve soil – poses a health risk due to unacceptable contaminants.
Local Government NSW (LGNSW) President Linda Scott said the decision to continue the ban on recycling the material, which comes out of our red bins, had the full backing of the local government sector.
“You can’t take chances with people’s health, and local government strongly supports banning this process in light of the scientific evidence,” Cr Scott said.
“In light of this ban, local governments are calling on the State Government to show vision and create a new way forward for organic waste.
“The Government has handed $6.5 million to the recycling industry to compensate for the ban, but has not offered any financial help to councils to deal with the waste they collected from local bins.
“We know 28 NSW councils pay extra to process residents’ red bin waste through alternative waste treatment plants, creating this mixed waste organic material, and these contracts still have some years to run.”
Cr Scott said the NSW Government should work with the public interest bodies – councils – to create a new vision for positive steps forward.
“Local governments signed contracts to do so at significant cost because they and their residents want to do the right thing environmentally – reduce landfill and create an environmentally acceptable product,” she said.
“They’re now trapped in those contracts, paying for a service that’s been banned.
“LGNSW is working with state government and its agencies to get answers, but at this point no commitments have been made and I am concerned councils will be left to carry the cost.”
The LGNSW President launched a report on recycling called At the Crossroads: The State of Waste and Recycling in NSW.
The report paints a bleak picture for the recycling industry in NSW with more waste being generated, household recycling and waste diversion rates stagnating; and regulation that discourages innovation and new markets for recycled products.
Cr Scott said it was time for the NSW Government to lead and urgently invest in waste and recycling services, and in plans to encourage markets for recycled products to put the State back on track.
The Save Our Recycling campaign calls on the NSW Government to work with councils to deliver a new approach in NSW.
“Budget papers show the NSW Government will collect $800 million each year from the Waste Levy by 2022,” she said.
“The money is there, and the Government needs to urgently invest it back into better recycling services in our local and regional communities.”