Coordinator appointed for WA container deposit scheme

The Western Australian Government has selected Return Recycle Renew to operate the state’s container deposit scheme.

Environment Minister Stephen Dawson said Return Recycle Renew would be responsible for running the scheme and ensuring all government objectives are met.

“Overseen by a board, the scheme coordinator will manage payments from manufacturers and importers of eligible beverage products, and will be responsible for establishing and implementing collection and logistics networks,” Mr Dawson said.

“An open and competitive process was used to identify the preferred scheme coordinator and I’m encouraged that Return Recycle Renew is best placed to deliver a high performing scheme for our state.”

According to Mr. Dawson, Return Recycle Renew has been appointed for seven years and must meet all recycling targets to be considered for reappointment.

“One of the first tasks for Return Recycle Renew is to run an open application process to establish the collection network,” Mr Dawson said.

“This will include refund points, transport and processing facilities and support for social enterprises to participate.”

Mr Dawson said WA will have more refund points per head than any other state or territory in Australia.

“As a regional Member of Parliament I want to be sure that remote communities do not miss out on the opportunities arising from this scheme,” Mr Dawson said.

“That’s why there will be at least one refund point in every remote town with 500 people or more and we will be looking at a range of other options for smaller communities.”

Mr. Dawson said as beverage containers account for 44 per cent of the volume of litter in WA, effective management of the scheme is crucial to reducing litter and improving the state’s recycling rates.

A chairperson and community representative will be appointed by the end of the month, with remaining directors appointed shortly after.

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ACT proposes single-use plastic ban

The ACT Government has released a discussion paper asking for contributions from the community on phasing out single-use plastics.

City Services Minister Chris Steel said the state could no longer ignore responsibility for plastics that litter the environment.

“Single-use plastic is commonly used for food packaging and includes items intended to be used only once before they are thrown away,” Mr Steel said.

“Single-use plastic litters our waterways, city parks and bush landscapes and goes into landfill where it may take hundreds or even thousands of years to break down.”

Mr Steel said the paper asks the community which problematic and unnecessary single-use plastics government should focus on including plastic straws and cutlery, disposable plates, cups and coffee lids, polystyrene plastic food containers and beverage cups and other non-recyclable plastics.

Proposed items that will be excluded from government action at this time include sanitary items, nappies and incontinence products, reusable plastic bags roughly 35 microns in thickness, health related sterile items, plastic beverage containers and microbeads — which are already being phased out by the territory.

“We are taking real action to become Australia’s most sustainable city,” Mr Steel said.

The European Parliament last year voted to ban single-use plastics in the EU by 2021.

Similarly, South Australia and the City of Hobart are also looking at phasing out single-use plastics.

“It is time that the ACT takes responsible action to reduce single-use plastics and build a circular economy where we reduce our reliance on these products and move to better alternatives,” Mr Steel said.

According to Mr Steel, while the ACT has already acted to reduce single-use plastic bags, through the introduction of the plastic shopping bag ban in 2011, it has the opportunity to do more to reduce the territory’s plastic footprint.

“It is still common place to see takeaway shops continuing to use plastic-foam takeaway containers like it is still the 1980s. Supermarkets also continue to sell plastic plates, cups and cutlery – when it seems like there are clear alternatives already being sold on their own shelves,” Mr Steel said.

“We want to hear from the community about how we can reduce the use of certain single-use plastics where there are clear alternatives that are good for the environment and practical for business, industry and consumers.”

Mr Steel said any decisions to phase-out single use plastics will likely have impacts on business, institutions and ACT residents, including people with a disability, and invites these groups to contribute to the discussion.

“We know from the plastic straw ban in other parts of the world that we need to consider the social equity impact on people with a disability, and I welcome their contribution on how we can responsibly manage our environment while taking these issues into account,” Mr Steel said.

“I encourage all interested or affected Canberrans to join the conversation and tell us their ideas about what they would like us to consider in phasing-out unnecessary and problematic single-use plastics.”

The ACT discussion paper follows a similar announcement in Western Australia last week, with Minister for the Environment Stephen Dawson asking the public to contribute to the Let’s Not Draw the Short Straw – Reduce Single-Use Plastics paper.

Last year the Western Australian government banned lightweight plastic bags and instructed government agencies to stop buying avoidable single-use plastic items.

Mr Dawson also announced a funding partnership between the state government and the Plastic Free Foundation, a not-for-profit organisation committed to the reduction of plastic use in every day life.

The Plastic Free Foundation has been awarded $326,725 in state government funding, with an extra $484,126 coming from Lotterywest, to engage individuals and communities in in the state to reduce plastic waste.

“Waste problems are a shared legacy. The state government wants to hear your practical ideas on how to avoid and reduce single-use plastics so we can protect our environment for future generations,” Mr Dawson said.

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Waste advisory group to support reform in WA

An advisory group tasked with providing direction on waste policy and legislation, has been set up as part of the Western Australian government’s continued push to improve the state’s recycling and waste management policies.

Following the release of the Waste Avoidance and Resource Recovery Strategy 2030, Environment Minister Stephen Dawson has established the Waste Reform Advisory Group to help inform the future direction of waste reform in the State.

The new advisory group will continue the work of the Waste Taskforce – convened by Mr Dawson as a response to the China National Sword Policy – and be the ongoing mechanism to ensure up-to-date information on waste matters is maintained.

The advisory group will provide advice on the direction and development of waste policy and legislation in Western Australia, including the key reforms outlined in the State’s new waste strategy and priority waste targets.

“The Waste Reform Advisory Group’s first task will be to consider an issues paper to guide legislative reforms to encourage the use of waste derived materials,” Mr Dawson said.

“I am keen to ensure legislative and policy reforms are developed collaboratively and fit for purpose to ensure we deliver outcomes in the long-term best interests of the State, the community and industry.”

The Waste Reform Advisory Group will be chaired by the Department of Water and Environmental Regulation’s Director General Mike Rowe, and will include representatives from the Waste Authority, local government, peak industry and resource bodies, community groups and non-government organisations, and material recovery operators.

The group’s first meeting is anticipated to be in April 2019.

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Perth’s top 10 recyclers

For the first time, local council waste and recycling data is available on the Western Australian Government’s MyCouncil website.

Environment Minister Stephen Dawson said the data offers an opportunity for local government communities to better understand their waste footprint and assess progress towards a more sustainable and low-waste future.

“Western Australians want to do the right thing when it comes to waste and by making this data publicly available we can all work collaboratively to reduce waste generation,” Mr Dawson said.

The data, sourced from the Waste Authority’s annual Local Government Waste and Recycling Census, includes the quantities of waste collected, disposed to landfill and recovered by local governments for each type of waste service offered.

“As we roll this out we expect to see improved resource recovery in metropolitan local governments that will be reflected each year on MyCouncil — helping us to meet the state government’s target of at least 75 per cent of waste generated in Western Australia to be reused or recycled by 2030,” Mr Dawson said.

According to Local Government Minister David Templeman, the data shows councils south of the river are significantly reducing waste to landfill, with East Fremantle, Melville, Cockburn and Fremantle all ranking among the top five recycling performers in the Perth metropolitan area.

“Making this data available in a central location on the MyCouncil website will improve transparency around local government waste performance and provide them with an increased incentive to improve their resource recovery performance,” Mr Templeman said.

Top 10 metropolitan recyclers

East Fremantle (Town)61%
Cockburn (City)61%
Melville (City)60%
Joondalup (City)55%
Fremantle (City)54%
Wanneroo (City)53%
Nedlands (City)52%
Cottesloe (Town)50%
Stirling (City)47%
Vincent (City)46%

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WA passes Waste Avoidance and Resource Recovery Bill

Western Australia’s legislative council passed the Waste Avoidance and Resource Recovery Bill (Container Deposit) on 13 March amending the Waste Avoidance and Resource Recovery Act 2007 and facilitating the implementation and operation of a container deposit scheme.

The government has committed to developing a container deposit scheme by 2020 saying consumers will receive a 10 cent refund when they return eligible empty beverage containers to refund points throughout the state.

Projections estimate the scheme will result in 706 million fewer beverage containers littered by 2037 and reduce the number of containers sent to landfill by 5.9 million.

Environment Minister Stephen Dawson said the scheme is expected to create 500 jobs at new container sorting and processing facilities and refund points.

The bill follow ambitious targets outlined in the governments Waste Avoidance and Resource Recovery Strategy 2030 including a 20 per cent reduction in waste generation per capita and a 75 per cent rate of material recovery by 2030.

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WA caps waste levy

WA Government Environment Minister Stephen Dawson has announced there will be no increase to the state’s waste levy in the next financial year until a pricing review has been completed.

As part of the state’s new Waste Strategy 2030, the Department of Water and Environmental Regulation will review the levy to ensure it meets new strategy objectives.

The department will establish a schedule of future waste levy rates and look at expanding the geographic extent of the levy, which currently only applies to the Perth metropolitan region.

A minimum five-year schedule of waste levy rates will be published to provide certainty to local governments in planning their waste services, and to drive investment and employment in the waste sector.

Western Australia has seen significant increases to its waste levy in recent years.

In January 2015, fees for sending putrescible waste to landfill increased from $28 to $55 a tonne and inert waste went up from $8 to $40 a tonne. By July 1, 2018 fees for all waste reached $70 per tonne.

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Mr Dawson said that to ensure the waste levy framework is robust, and to allow time for the review to be completed, the McGowan Government will not increase the waste levy for 2019-20.

“I will publish the schedule of rates beyond these years as soon as our review of the scope and application of the waste levy is complete,” Mr Dawson said.

WA CDS legislation enters state parliament

Container deposit scheme laws have been introduced into the Western Australian Parliament, with the scheme expected to start in early 2020.

The move is a major milestone for the scheme, which is projected to result in 706 million fewer beverage containers littered over the next 20 years.

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It also aims to increase recycling throughout the state and is expected to reduce the number of containers sent to landfill by 5.9 billion.

The scheme is expected to deliver a net positive benefit of around $152 million over the next 20 years and follows the state government’s waste reduction methods, which includes a ban on lightweight single-use plastic bags and a review of the WA waste strategy.

WA Premier Mark McGowan said Western Australians have been supportive of the scheme, with more than 3000 people supporting it during the public consultation period.

“The introduction of this legislation to Parliament marks a major milestone in bringing a container deposit scheme to Western Australia,” he said.

“Not only will we be diverting waste from landfill, this scheme is likely to create as many as 500 jobs as part of the new container sorting and processing facilities, and refund points across the state.”

WA Environment Minister Stephen Dawson said he is confident the container deposit scheme will reduce litter and increase recycling.

“It will also be designed to provide business opportunities for social enterprises and help charities and community organisations raise money to fund vital community work,” Mr Dawson said.

“This scheme will be a win for the environment and a win for the local economy.”

WA’s plastic bag ban enforcement to start in 2019

The Western Australian Government will begin enforcing its lightweight plastic bag ban will from January 1, 2019, with fines of up to $5000 for retailers that continue to supply plastic bags.

Plastic bag suppliers and manufacturers that provide misleading information when selling bags to retailers also risk prosecution and fines.

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The ban includes any bag made of plastic with handles and a thickness of 35 microns or less.

WA Environment Minister Stephen Dawson said the state’s plastic bag ban has been well supported by the community.

“From January 1, 2019 it will be an offence for retailers to supply lightweight plastic bags – this includes small retail shops, takeaway food outlets and markets,” Mr Dawson said.

“Consumers can help by remembering to take their own reusable bags when they go shopping.

“Taking lightweight plastic bags out of the litter stream is a significant step towards protecting our environment.”

WA freeway to use C&D waste as road base

Recycled construction and demolition (C&D) waste will be trialled as road base for use on the Kwinana Freeway widening project, WA.

The project is the first major road in WA that will use recycled materials as road base to boost the state’s recycling performance.

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The trial will take place between Russell Road and Roe Highway and will use about 25,000 tonnes of recycled C&D product.

Main Roads WA will work with the Waste Authority and the Department of Water and Environment Regulation (DWER) for the trial.

A new product testing scheme will aim to help C&D recyclers with the costs associated with meeting the appropriate specifications are free of contaminants and asbestos. An independent audit testing scheme aims to provide additional support.

The pilot aims to improve confidence in using recycled C&D products and supporting the state’s waste diversion target. Its findings will be used to establish the WA Government’s Road to Reuse program.

WA Environment Minister Stephen Dawson said the demonstration project is the beginning of a new practice for the government.

“It will demonstrate to local governments and industry that recycled content is usable and value for money, redressing the concerns from many years ago that effectively stopped any reuse of valuable construction and demolition materials,” Mr Dawson says.

“This partnership between DWER, the Waste Authority and Main Roads is a huge step forward for the reduction of construction and demolition waste in Western Australia.

“By using recycled construction and demolition products in projects across the state, we can help meet our landfill diversion targets and focus on recycling materials.”

WA Transport Minister Rita Saffioti said the interagency partnership is key to ensuring the ongoing use of recycled material in WA.

“Roads to Reuse establishes a strict testing regime to reduce the risk of contaminants to below allowable limits – protecting people and the environment,” she said.

WA to launch cigarette butt litter campaign in 2019

The Western Australian Government is planning to roll out a campaign that targets littered cigarette butts and packaging after it was found they made up more than a third of the state’s litter.

Keep Australia Beautiful WA’s 2017-18 National Litter Index (NLI) has found discarded butts were responsible for pushing up the state’s litter statistics with a 21.9 per cent increase in cigarette litter. The butts and packaging accounted for 3376 of the 9550 litter items recorded by the count.

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Littering had increased by 2.6 per cent across WA compared to the previous year’s results, but overall littering was still 21 per cent lower than what had been recorded in 2015-16. Takeaway packaging litter in WA had been reduced by 11.3 per cent, according to the NLI with beverage containers also down by seven per cent.

The NLI is measured twice each financial year each state and territory. Litter across 151 sites within 50 kilometres of Perth’s CBD is measured as part of the index, looking at highways, beaches, retail and shopping areas, car parks, recreational parks and residential and industrial areas.

Environment Minister Stephen Dawson said cigarette butts are the most littered item in Australia.

“Littered cigarette butts do not break down and are often washed into waterways, causing contamination,” Mr Dawson said.

“They can be mistaken for food by our wildlife and are a blight on the beauty of our state’s natural environment.

“The efforts of the majority are being undermined by the selfish acts of the few who litter. If you are a smoker, please dispose of your cigarette butts responsibly into waste bins. Failing to do this is an offence,” he said.