LGA SA calls for support following recycling facility fire

The Local Government Association of South Australia (LGA) is seeking immediate assistance from the state government to address the impacts of a fire which destroyed the Wingfield Visy recycling plant last week.

Twelve South Australian councils who have contracts with Visy to provide recyclables processing services are impacted, with waste collectors no longer able to transport kerbside collected recycling to the Visy plant.

LGA CEO Matt Pinnegar has called on the state government to provide immediate support and assistance to councils to ensure they can continue providing recycling services to their communities.

He explained that neither the councils nor the waste collectors involved have the capacity to store the material for any longer than the short term.

“Councils need assistance from the state government to make arrangements for transport or storage of recyclable material until more suitable interim arrangements can be put in place,” Pinnegar said.

“The state government is the ultimate decision maker as it is the Minister for the Environment who has the power to grant approvals for storage or disposal of waste, the minister who can grant urgent exemptions to regulatory controls and the minister who administers the Green Industry Fund.”

According to Pinnegar, the minister has $112 million in the Green Industry Fund, with councils and ratepayers currently contributing over $45 million a year in solid waste levy payments.

“This money must now be used to support councils in providing communities with continuity of recycling and shield ratepayers from the inevitable short term cost increase,” he said.

Pinnegar added that councils have continued to provide recycling services through a period of significant instability in the waste and recycling sectors.

“In the last couple of years councils have dealt with the global impacts of the China National Sword Policy, the collapse of SKM Recycling and the state government’s 40 per cent increase in the solid waste levy in 2019,” he said.

“Local government has been working hard to address this instability and increase capacity in the waste sector, and at least two new local government recycling facilities in South Australia will come online this year.

“It is important that whatever temporary arrangements are needed, they do not detract from all of the progress that we have made towards achieving a stable and sustainable recycling sector for South Australia.”

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