Climate change impact: MRA Consulting

MRA’s Mike Ritchie speaks to Waste Management Review about the waste sector’s contribution to national emissions and its role in meeting Australia’s commitment to the Paris Agreement.  

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WALGA releases CDS discussion paper

At its annual policy forum, The Western Australian Local Government Association (WALGA) released the Sharing the Benefits of the container deposit scheme (CDS) discussion paper.

WALGA Manager Waste and Recycling Rebecca Brown said the paper would form the basis for advocacy on key components of CDS regulations.

CDS laws were introduced into the Western Australian Parliament in December 2018, with the scheme expected to start in early 2020.

The scheme is expected to deliver a net positive benefit of around $152 million over the next 20 years.

WALGA proposes negotiations between local governments and material recovery facilities (MRF) on how to best share cost benefits of the CDS start at a 50/50 basis — net the verifiable inclusion costs for MRF’s.

Ms Brown said a 50/50 starting point would provide both parties with an equitable share of the benefits of CDS, while including considerations of the costs to the MRF operator.

The paper also explores how CDS will influence the cost of operating an MRF, potential sampling protocols and approaches to transparency.

At the policy forum, Ms Brown also announced the development of a new WALGA resource for local government that provides an overview of the legislative framework, anticipated implementation timeframes, contractual relationships and local government considerations of the CDS.

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Potential emergency plastic tax by 2021: report

The plastic waste crisis is expected to deepen, potentially leading to a federal response in the form of an emergency tax by 2021, according to global wealth manager Credit Suisse.

It argues that reactionary policy measures are highly likely in the short term and could include a tax on virgin resins or additional tariffs placed on imported plastic goods in its report, The age of plastic at a tipping point.

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With too much plastic waste domestically and with no large export markets available, Credit Suisse estimates there will be a sharp increase in plastic being sent to landfill and illegal dumping.

“Our headline view is that things will get worse before they get better: the policy initiatives in the National Waste Strategy won’t take hold until FY20/21,” the report said.

Credit Suisse expects bans on single use-plastics to be extended to the six most common plastic packaging and tax incentives to be provided to help hit the 2025 target of 30 per cent recycled content in packaging.

The long lead time from policy approval to implementation is problematic, particularly for new waste infrastructure, which the company said will likely lead to a more supportive project approval environment for waste infrastructure.

Waste managers are expected to benefit from this scenario, with short term potential from council re-negotiations and long-term potential to fast-track waste infrastructure approvals, according to the report.

“Plastic has infiltrated almost every aspect of human life. It is the most prolific material on the planet, growing faster than any commodity in the last 33 years,” the report said.

“Plastic packaging has become one of the most intractable environmental challenges of our age. None of the commonly used plastics are biodegradable; they accumulate in landfills or the natural environment rather than decompose.

“To curtail the situation in the short run, it is a matter of when, not if, we see reactionary policy measures,” the report said.