Local Government NSW (LGNSW) has welcomed the commitment from State environmental ministers to prioritise delivery of waste reduction and increased recycling through an ambitious new National Waste Policy Action Plan that would make Australia a world leader in waste management.
LGNSW President Linda Scott, who attended the Meeting of Environment Ministers in Adelaide, said State ministers agreed to a range of ambitious targets included in the plan, such as:
- An 80 per cent recovery rate of material across all waste streams;
- Significant increases to government procurement of recycled materials; and
- Halving the amount of organic waste sent to landfill.
“The plan is a positive outcome and is a direct result of approaching deadlines to export bans on waste materials,” Cr Scott said.
“Importantly, it comes with a commitment for the States to work with local government.
“It’s very pleasing from LGNSW’s point of view because we have been calling on the NSW Government for well over a year through our Save Our Recycling campaign to revitalise our State’s waste and recycling sector.”
At LGNSW’s Annual Conference last month, attended by more than 800 local government leaders from around the State, Cr Scott released the association’s At the Crossroads: The State of Waste and Recycling in NSW report.
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.
“Currently, almost 2.5 million tonnes of NSW domestic waste collected by councils goes to landfill every year, and that figure is rapidly increasing,” Cr Scott said.
“Much of it could be recycled into useful product.
“LGNSW wants the NSW Government to reinvest the Waste Levy it collects – designed as a disincentive to landfill – in the purpose for which it is collected.”
The campaign calls for the Waste Levy to be reinvested in:
- Increasing local and state government procurement of recycled goods made with domestic content;
- Delivering a state-wide education campaign on the importance of recycling to encourage the right way to recycle, the purchase of products with recycled content, and promoting waste avoidance.
- Funding councils to develop regional plans for the future of waste and resource recovery in their regions
- Priority infrastructure and other local projects needed to deliver the regional-scale plans, particularly where a market failure has been identified.
“It was acknowledged at today’s meeting that Commonwealth, State and Territory government resources are needed to meet export ban deadlines and I call on them to invest more in the efforts our councils are making to solve the waste and recycling problem,” Cr Scott said.