Infrastructure Victoria’s Elissa McNamara explains how Victoria could recover up to 90 per cent of its waste if $1 billion is spent on recycling infrastructure in the next two decades. Brittany Coles reports.
Victoria could recover up to 90 per cent of its waste if $1 billion is spent on recycling infrastructure in the state by 2039.
Waste Management Review speaks with Infrastructure Victoria about its recent waste report and potential recycling solutions for the state.
Infrastructure Victoria has published its interim report to the Victorian Government on the infrastructure required to support a changing recycling and resource recovery sector.
According to Infrastructure Victoria CEO Michel Masson, Victoria’s total waste generation nearly doubled between 2000 and 2018, growing from 7.4 million tonnes to 13.4 millions tonnes each year. Mr Masson said stockpiling and illegal dumping are now significant concerns.
Despite this, Mr Masson said after a thorough investigation of the recycling and resource recovery sector, Infrastructure Victoria has identified exciting opportunities for investment, new processes and community action.
“To waste less and recycle more, governments, communities and businesses all need to play their parts. We have all learnt to use less water and power, now we have to apply the same principles to waste,” Mr Masson said.
The report specifically outlines that further investment in organic processing is needed to divert food and garden waste from landfill and reduce methane gas emissions.
“Infrastructure Victoria has identified the food and garden waste should go to more high quality composting facilities, which would need to be supported by a rollout of household organics collection services,” Mr Masson said.
Victoria’s current co-mingled system does not produce sufficiently clean streams to support end markets for recycled materials, according to the report.
“Greater separation of waste in homes and businesses can reduce contamination and improve the quality of our recycling,” the report reads.
“Infrastructure Victoria’s consumer research demonstrates 90 per cent of households surveyed are open to changing how they sort their waste.”
Report findings show best practice jurisdictions separate at least five types of material at the source, including organics, plastics, paper and card, glass and metals.
While multiple calls have been made to introduce a container deposit scheme in Victoria, the preliminary view of the report is that more analysis is needed on how to design an optimal scheme for Victoria.
The report also calls for improved commercial and industrial recycling standards.
“Incentives and price signals need to be examined to improve performance across the board, from manufacturers to retail,” the report reads.
Initiatives to disincentivise the use of virgin materials in production, or promote the procurement of products made from recycled materials, were also highlighted.
Proposed actions include:
Developing a clear, overarching policy framework including recycling targets and waste-to-energy.
Supporting councils to implement more consistent approaches to sorting and collecting waste, helping to reduce contamination in household recycling collection.
Better planning, locating and protecting waste management sites.
Working with the Commonwealth and other states to reduce packaging and single use plastics.
Increasing the use of recycled materials by eliminating barriers and updating government procurement guidelines.
Infrastructure Victoria will deliver its final report on recycling and resource recovery infrastructure in April 2020.
Infrastructure Victoria will provide advice to government on infrastructure required to support changes to recycling and resource recovery in Victoria.
Infrastructure Victoria is now seeking submissions from waste sector stakeholders.
Infrastructure Victoria Chief Executive Officer Michel Masson said the request comes at a time of significant change for the waste industry.
“Recent changes in the global market for recycled products mean there are flow-on impacts for how Victoria collects, sorts and exports waste,” Mr Masson said.
“With these changes come both challenges and opportunities, and we are pleased to be able to explore these as part of our advice to the government.”
Mr Masson said Infrastructure Victoria will undertake comprehensive engagement with community and stakeholders to develop the advice.
“Hearing from industry, local government and the community will be essential,” Mr Masson said.
“We will build on the substantial amount of work that already exists or is being progressed to support Victoria’s waste management, and will ensure our advice takes account of community attitudes and expectations.”
Mr Masson said advice will be based on projections of future waste streams and projected trends in population growth.
“In framing this advice, Infrastructure Victoria will also take note of specific implications for regional Victoria,” Mr Masson said.
Infrastructure Victoria is seeking advice on infrastructure required to:
— Develop Victoria’s re-processing sector for recycled material, particularly those that rely heavily on overseas markets.
— Better enable the use of products containing recycled materials in a variety of Victoria industries such as manufacturing, construction and agriculture.
— Support a waste to energy sector that priorities the extraction of recyclable material and recovers energy only from residual waste.
— Support organics recycling though front end infrastructure requirements and trade-off opportunities.
Infrastructure Victoria will deliver advice to government in April 2020. An interim report will be provided in October 2019.