The Environment Protection Authority has released 2018 South Australia’s State of the Environment Report, indicating in the report that the prospects of achieving the government’s waste generation reduction target seems unlikely.
The report shows South Australia’s Waste Strategy 2015-20 set a target to reduce waste generation per capita by more than five per cent by 2020 from the 2015 baseline, equating to a reduction of 400 kilograms per person from the volume generated in 2016-17 by 2020. It notes that given the current upward trend, this seems unlikely.
The report shows the average amount of waste generated in SA rose by just over 2000 kilograms per capita per year in 2003-4 to 3000 kilograms in 2016-17 – an increase of 42 per cent.
It highlights that current priority actions to meet the target are to promote green purchasing, waste avoidance, collaborative consumption and production, product refurbishment and behaviour change.
“Given strong competing influences on consumer behaviour in the form of marketing, fashion and social norms, a targeted program is needed to encourage production (for example, design, durability and packaging), marketing (for example, labelling) and consumption (for example, product selection) choices that reduce waste generation,” the report says.
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“There is also a major opportunity for government to take the lead in increasing the strength of a circular economy, including through green procurement.”
To tackle these issues, the report recommends coordinated national action to reduce waste, including through regulation of packaging, providing leadership in the strengthening of the local resource recovery industry through green procurement and strengthening education and behaviour change initiatives aimed at reducing waste.
“While we continue to get better at diverting most of this waste away from landfill to resource recovery, the most efficient solution remains that of avoiding generation of the waste in the first place,” the report says.
“However, it also remains imperative to keep getting better at reusing recovered resources locally to reduce the risk of reliance on other markets.”
The key recommendations of the report are to review the state’s climate change response to ensure that climate risks are adequately embedded into planning and investment by government agencies, review environmental reporting in the state, including trend and condition report cards, prioritise water management and onground land stewardship initiatives and a range of other areas.
Environment and Water Minister David Speirs said the state government was considering the EPA’s important report in detail.
“This report provides a wealth of information about the challenges facing our state, that can be used to help shape government policy and actions in the future,” Mr Speirs said.
Environment Protection Authority Board Presiding Member Catherine Cooper said that the report assesses the state and condition of SA’s major environmental resources and identifies significant trends in environmental quality, and shows that, while South Australia was doing reasonably well, in some areas there are serious challenges to be met.