Media release - Time to get serious about recycling

8 November 2019

Councils are calling for government to get serious about recycling and a circular economy as State environment ministers from across the country meet today (Friday 8/11/19).

Local Government NSW (LGNSW) President Linda Scott issued the call before joining the nation’s environment ministers to discuss the implementation of export bans announced by Prime Minister Scott Morrison during his US trip earlier this year.

“We all recognise the urgent need to manage our own waste and recycling here in Australia,” Cr Scott said.

“That urgency is exacerbated as we move towards full bans on certain recyclables that were previously sold overseas.

“We need to reduce waste overall, and to create local markets for local recyclables.

“That is why LGNSW’s Save Our Recycling campaign calls for an increase in government procurement of recycled goods made with domestic content.

“And that is just one way all tiers of Government can work together to make waste a product, not a problem.”

Cr Scott said the NSW-based campaign also focused on the reinvestment of the NSW Waste Levy in the purpose for which it was collected, to fund three further solutions:

“We believe the NSW Government needs to reinvest the $772 million-plus it collects through the Levy each year in

  • 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.
  • Delivery of 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.

Currently, less than 20% of the Levy collected from local government in NSW is reinvested in waste minimisation, management and recycling.

This compares to Queensland, where 105% of the Waste Levy paid by councils is returned to them, and that State Government’s Waste Management and Resource Recovery Strategy is designed to

  • Work with councils to raise awareness about locally-available recycling options.
  • Deliver information and education programs that support waste avoidance, repurposing, reuse, recycling, and litter and illegal dumping prevention.
  • Support councils to improve waste and recycling collection services and tackle problem wastes.
  • Work with businesses to reduce excessive packaging and make packaging waste recyclable.
  • Make government purchasing decisions that avoid waste and support products containing recycled materials.
  • Support research into new uses and markets for recycled materials.
  • Support infrastructure investment in locations to help improve community access to recycling.

“Each State needs a properly funded approach that works effectively for their communities, and Queensland has clearly taken significant steps to achieve this goal,” Cr Scott said.

“Councils in South Australia are seeking to use their combined buying-power to significantly increase demand for recyclable materials in that state, my local government colleagues in Victoria have identified the need for stronger leadership and increased investment by governments, greater regulation of our recycling industry, and more responsibility placed on businesses to generate less waste.

“According to an Ernst and Young Oceania report released in September, Australia is missing out on up to $324 million of value that could be extracted from the waste of our kerbside bins each year.

“It’s time to take meaningful action at all levels of Government to make waste a product, not a problem.”

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