The Victorian Government’s latest waste plan

Victorian Environment Minister Lily D’Ambrosio provides an update on the government’s position on a range of topics.

Q. Programs such as the War on Waste have recently brought attention to a lack of a business model for coffee cup recycling and state-wide bans on plastic bags.What is the government’s position on these issues?

We welcome any development that increases the recycling of disposable coffee cups. The packaging industry is already working to address this problem. The Australian Packaging Covenant (APC) Strategic Plan 2017-22 focuses on the diversion of 50 per cent of disposable coffee cups from landfill.

Accepting disposable coffee cups in recycling is one of a number of possible solutions, including investigating source solutions through improved packaging materials and promoting the use of reusable cups.

In regards to plastic bags, we’re engaging with industry and the community to identify the most effective and appropriate approach to reduce their impact in Victoria. A ban on single-use, lightweight “supermarket style” plastic bags, consistent with other jurisdictions, is one of the options being considered.

Q. What action is the government taking to address the impact of pollution from recycling fires?

We’re overhauling the Environment Protection Act to ensure that the independent regulator can protect the Victorian community and the environment from the impacts of pollution and waste.

We’re putting a general preventative duty at the heart of the new act which will require everyone, including operators of sites like that at Coolaroo, to take reasonably practicable steps to minimise risks of harm from pollution and waste.

We are also significantly increasing penalties for those who don’t properly manage their risks, and investing $162.5 million in the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) to build its capabilities to prevent and reduce harm.

The Interim Waste Management Policy, announced on 29 August, outlines requirements for appropriate storage of stockpiled combustible waste materials, requiring risk assessment by operators and compliance with fire services guidelines.

Q: The Government recently completed long-term plans for waste and recovery. How do these plans align with the rest of its landfill reduction processes? 

The Andrews Labor Government recently finalised the Victorian Waste and Resource Recovery Planning Framework, which sets out how we will safely manage our waste over the next 30 years.

The framework comprises a Statewide Waste and Resource Recovery Infrastructure Plan, seven regional waste plans and three priority strategies (organics, market development and education). The framework will ensure that waste infrastructure is in the right place at the right time. Some of the broad goals of the framework are to reduce the amount of waste that is disposed of to landfill, develop markets for recycled products and ensure that management and operation of waste facilities, including landfills, meet international best practice standards.

The Metropolitan Waste and Resource Recovery Implementation Plan sets out how we will deal with the waste created by Melbourne’s growing population over the next 10 years.

Implementing the metropolitan plan will establish a suite of new, improved and expanded infrastructure by 2026. This will include new, advanced technology facilities to recover resources from Melbourne’s residual municipal waste and new organics facilities to recover and process 600,000 tonnes of organic waste annually, such as household and commercial food waste. This also encompasses technologies (including waste to energy facilities) that manage waste near where it’s produced. There will also be new and improved resource recovery centres and transfer stations across Melbourne.