The National Waste and Recycling Industry Council has released its Industry Roadmap document, a national plan for a circular economy to improve Australia’s waste and recycling industry.
It comes after a Four Corners investigation into stockpiling, the illegal transportation of waste and numerous other issues.
Interstate transport and stockpiling
The council said it has been actively advocating for a solution to the issue of interstate transport of waste materials between Sydney and South East Queensland. Media reports have focused on the cause of this as related to the landfill levy, which is non existent in Queensland.
In July this year, NWRIC wrote to both NSW Environment Minister Gabrielle Upton and Queensland Environment Minister Stephen Miles – asking for urgent government action to mitigate this problem. The NWRIC said this correspondence was a continuation of industry advocacy on this issue going back several years.
Council members have ratified a national position opposing the unnecessary interstate transport of waste. The NWRIC says Australia’s largest waste and recycling companies believe the inter-jurisdictional variation in landfill levies undermines new investment into resource recovery infrastructure, particularly in NSW. As a solution, the council has called for all states to recognise the portability of landfill levy liabilities and put in place regulations to collect these wherever waste is landfilled.
In response to the issue of glass and plastic stockpiling, the NWRIC’s Roadmap calls for better planning to ensure commodities can be managed to accommodate market fluctuations.The roadmap calls on state governments to effectively re-invest landfill levy revenue to create and simulate markets for recycled materials and build new recycling infrastructure.
Odour, dust and noise
The NWRIC said a significant national effort has been made to consolidate Australia’s landfills and recycling facilities into larger, more centralised sites. This work has considerably reduced public nuisance from odour, dust and noise. Improvements in facilities management has further reduced these emissions.
However, the nature of waste processing means that some emissions are inevitable. The industry is calling for state and territory government to undertake effective, whole of government planning initiatives to create landfill and recycling sites segregated from sensitive residential and commercial development. The most effective tool for reducing public nuisance from waste management is good planning.
Australia’s national resource recovery rate of over 50 per cent puts us well ahead of many of our OECD counterparts, including the US and Canada. Despite some setbacks, Australia’s overall recycling rates continue to improve.
The waste and recycling industry employs close to 30,000 people according to 2009 statistics by Access Economics, making it Australia’s largest green collar employer and one of the nation’s fastest growing manufacturing sectors. The NWRIC believes that with improved planning, regulatory harmony and effective re-investment of landfill levy revenue – the economic, social and environmental performance of the industry will continue to improve.