In response to China’s National Sword decision, Victorian councils and industry will be provided a $13 million package to support the ongoing collection of household waste.
The assistance will go towards helping councils and industries that have been affected by the China policy, giving them and their contractors time to develop longer-term solutions, including renegotiating contracts.
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The Victorian Government has also moved to establish a recycling industry taskforce to develop a plan for industry transition.
The decision comes not long after the Victorian Waste Management Association (VWMA) called for a suite of measures to improve the situation.
The VWMA in a statement welcomed the opportunity to represent its member base on any proposed taskforce and said it has been assured by relevant government agencies that it will have a seat at the table. It advocated for the taskforce to have fair representation of the waste and resource recovery sector, including small and medium operators and the waste transport sector. It said the taskforce should be steered by principles such as a competitive resource recovery sector and circular economy principles that prioritise local jobs over exports or landfilling.
China has not banned the importation of waste entirely but new restrictions on the contamination rate means that they require a cleaner and more processed version of these materials.
“While recycling is ultimately a matter for local councils, we’re stepping in to help councils and industry affected by China’s new import rules,” said Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change Lily D’Ambrosio.
“This is about protecting jobs and ensuring Victorians have confidence to continue recycling.”
Council assistance will be provided until 30 June, though they will be required to meet an increase in recycling costs from 1 July.