The decision to push back COAG’s export ban on unprocessed glass does not alleviate the urgent need for recycling reform in NSW, according to Local Government NSW (LGNSW).
With more countries refusing to take Australia’s recycled waste exports, LGNSW President Linda Scott said the Federal Government’s deadline extensions were ineffective.
“There’s no point extending waste export deadlines if the countries we export waste to no longer accept it,” she said.
“We are facing a looming waste and recycling crisis and new government funding for recycling initiatives and reprocessing facilities is needed now.”
Scott explained that LGNSW has been calling for an overhaul of waste and recycling management for years.
“It’s frustrating and worrying that even with looming international deadlines, the state and Federal Governments have not made significant inroads into dealing with waste glass or other recyclables,” she said.
“The recent fast tracking of several waste and recycling facilities by the Department of Planning is a positive step, but it is not enough to keep up with mounting demand.”
In the absence of state or federal investment in reprocessing and remanufacturing facilities, Scott said councils across NSW are facing ever-increasing costs to recycle materials collected at kerbside.
“The amount of waste we are generating is increasing, while recycling and waste diversion rates are stagnating,” Scott said.
“The NSW Government collects about $800 million annually through its waste levy, but currently reinvests only about 18 per cent into recycling and waste management.
“That’s money that should be being reinvested to deal with the growing waste and recycling crisis facing NSW.”
LGNSW is calling on the state government to increase procurement of recycled goods made with domestic content, and provide funding to councils to develop regional waste plans and deliver priority infrastructure.
Additionally, LGNSW is asking the state government to introduce producer responsibility schemes for problematic materials, and deliver statewide education campaigns to promote waste avoidance and recycling.
Scott said the four-point plan is designed to ensure recycling that previously would have been shipped offshore can be dealt with in NSW, with the added benefit of creating jobs and boosting local economies.
“We’re encouraged that the NSW Government has been listening to us. In March this year it announced a series of proposals to tackle the use of plastics, reduce waste and pollution and increase recycling with the release of its NSW Plastics Plan and 20 Year Waste Strategy discussion papers,” she said.
“The challenge now is to ensure these proposals are implemented and that they are backed by recurrent funding sourced from the reinvestment of the waste levy.”