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Melbourne’s bold vision with big maybes

Metropolitan Waste and Resource Recovery Implementation Plan
Victorian Waste Management Association Executive Officer Andrew Tytherleigh puts the Metropolitan Waste And Resource Recovery Implementation Plan into context for industry professionals.

Detailing how Melbourne’s waste and recycling needs will be delivered over the next decade, the Victorian Government launched the Metropolitan Waste and Resource Recovery Implementation Plan (Metro Plan) on 12 October. The document sets out a vision and strategy for managing waste as the population continues to grow, focusing on the city’s infrastructure needs and how these will be met over the next 10 years.

The introduction to the Metro Plan states the individual elements have been designed to encourage innovation of new technologies capable of using household waste, as well as alternative waste processing facilities, all with the aim of preventing significant volumes of waste going to landfill.

When launching the Metro Plan, Victorian Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change Lily D’Ambrosio said: “Population growth means that waste volumes could nearly double over the next 30 years. To ensure Melbourne remains liveable we have to see waste as a resource and not just a problem.”

To rise to the challenge of maintaining Melbourne as a liveable city as regards its waste and resource recovery requirements, the Metro Plan focuses on four priority areas:
• Reducing waste sent to landfill to prevent the need for new sites;
• Increasing the amount of organic waste that is being recovered;
• Delivering community, environmental and economic benefits through waste recovery; and
• Planning for Melbourne’s growing population.

In addition, the Metro Plan looks to support a larger metropolitan organics network, which will allow recovery and processing of 600,000 tonnes of food and garden waste from homes and businesses to be used as compost for farms, gardens and public spaces.

Landfill closures

The starkest fact in the Metro Plan is the statement that 13 landfills are going to close around Melbourne over the next 10 years, leaving only four major landfills to service a population that is expected to rise to 7.5 million people generating 16.5 million tonnes of waste a year.

The plan hopes that the reduced reliance on landfills will be achieved by the uptake of new alternative technologies, such as waste to energy, changes in people’s recycling habits and improved resource recovery infrastructure that captures more waste.

Is it a brave or a rash call not to schedule any new landfill space in the plan? Such a step-change in the way we treat our waste is unprecedented.

To continue reading this article, see page 54 of Issue 9.

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