The Municipal Association of Victoria (MAV) has welcomed the Victorian Government’s $6.6 million support package for councils over four months, as well as additional funding for the recycling industry to improve their sorting and processing of recycled materials.
A recent Parliamentary Budget Office report estimated the unfunded cost to councils of the recycling crises for the 18 months to 30 June has been around $42 million. These costs are continuing to rise for 33 councils affected by SKM’s closure.
Local government is committed to exploring collaborative procurement opportunities. This should occur alongside reforms to strengthen industry oversight so operators can no longer conduct their business under a veil of secrecy.
The MAV also supports exploring the use of procurement targets for all government agencies to increase their use of Australian recycled content.
To address the high rates of kerbside recycling contamination, the MAV’s Rescue Our Recycling Action Plan has called on the State to implement a Container Deposit Scheme and a highly visible community education campaign about good recycling practices and ways to avoid generating waste.
A number of councils are actively investigating or already trialling the use of a fourth bin for glass. Councils are currently reusing glass waste in road base and pavements. Separating out different recycled materials would help to decrease contamination levels and create a more usable end product.
Cr Coral Ross, MAV President welcomed the short-term measures announced by the State, with conversations ongoing between all levels of government to identify longer-term investment and solutions to stabilise our recycling system.
“The $6.6 million package for 33 councils is positive acknowledgement by the Victorian Government of the need for their direct investment and support, although we are unclear whether the funding will cover the full cost increases incurred by councils.
“Sending recyclable material to landfill is always a last resort for councils. However until capacity is increased at remaining recycling facilities or new recyclers are attracted to the market, there are almost no other alternatives for some affected councils.
“We urgently need greater regulation of the recycling industry to stop the likes of the SKM situation from occurring again, and to prevent opportunistic price increases from other recycling providers.
“Stronger oversight of industry would also provide councils with important data to inform their contract decision-making – such as details about the end markets for recycled materials, and compliance and enforcement status and history.
“Victorian councils and communities also support the introduction of a container deposit scheme. They have proven successful in other states and it’s time for Victoria to catch up.
“We will be meeting with the government to work through details about how their funding package can best support affected councils, who are committed to achieving the best outcomes for their communities when considering the State’s conditions in return for funding relief,” she said.