The NSW Budget has allocated $96 million, or $240 million over four years, to waste management programs designed to accelerate the state’s circular economy transition.
While little detail is provided, the Planning, Industry and Environment Cluster Outcomes Statement highlights the continuation of Waste Less, Recycle More and addressing lead contamination in Broken Hill.
Additionally, it notes that the $96 million investment will be used to drive strategic policies, programs and initiatives, such as the 20-year Waste Strategy and Plastics Plan.
“As we work to finalise our 20-year Waste Strategy and the NSW Plastics Plan, this funding will support our councils to manage their local communities’ waste,” Environment Minister Matt Kean said.
The Budget announcement has been met with disappointment by the Waste Management and Resource Recovery Association of Australia, with CEO Gayle Sloan suggesting the NSW Government and its EPA are out of step with other Australian governments and the WARR industry.
“It is terribly disappointing to hear the Treasurer talk about a budget that is all about economic recovery and prosperity and then to see that it is silent on our essential industry, save for a laughable one-year extension of Waste Less, Recycle More, while the government appears to be banking on a 10 per cent increase in waste levy revenue by 2024,” Sloan said.
“How is it that NSW believes it will be increasing landfilling when the rest of Australia, led by the Commonwealth, is clearly on a path towards improving material management, reducing disposal, increasing recovery and recycling, and creating valuable Australian jobs?”
According to Sloan, the Budget possibly confirms what industry has long feared, that NSW is a “one trick state,” that relies on the waste levy rather than policy when working with the waste and resource recovery sector.
“The Budget is just one more kick for our essential sector in NSW, which for the past three years has been operating in a policy holding pattern coupled with tremendous regulatory uncertainty, continuously told to wait for a new plan that is on its third attempt in three years, while the rest of Australia marches on investing in recovery and jobs,” she said.
“This budget is disappointing as it sends the message that NSW remains closed for WARR business, instead of seizing the opportunity for our sector to play a key role in the economic recovery.”
In contrast, the Budget has been welcomed by Local Government NSW President Linda Scott, who highlighted the extension Waste Less, Recycle More.
According to Scott, extending the Waste Less, Recycle More program will help promote a circular economy, enabling NSW to create more reusable product, with the potential to create whole new industries.
“Mayors and councillors welcome the fact that the NSW Government has listened to our advocacy to save recycling and will invest $96 million towards a better recycling system,” she said.
Scott added however, that the state government needs to take the next step by matching federal and industry funding to divert more than 10 million tonnes of waste from landfill.
“It’s disappointing that the state government will not match Federal Government recycling funding in this Budget, but it is not too late to ensure NSW does not miss out,” she said.