National Waste and Recycling Industry Council (NWRIC) State Affiliates provide a detailed overview of industry and policy changes across the country.
Chief Minister of the Northern Territory Michael Gunner will open the forthcoming Territory Waste + Recycling Industry Summit, held 1-2 April at the Michael Long Centre in Darwin.
The Territory Waste + Recycling Industry Summit will provide an opportunity to discuss strategic developments in the Northern Territory resource recovery sector.
Presentations will provide information on how business and government can continue to deliver innovative secondary resource recovery solutions and grow community confidence in recycling.
The program will capture key themes including: challenges in the territory’s waste market, the forthcoming export ban and its impact on the Northern Territory, legacy waste management and emerging waste opportunities.
The forum will also discuss insights gained from a GHD analysis into commercial market opportunities, and provide an opportunity to contribute to the Waste Recycling Industry Association’s (WRINT) industry roadmap.
Delegates will also hear from a range of industry stakeholders including WRINT CEO Rick Ralph, ResourceCo CEO Jim Fairweather, Australian Road Research Board CEO Micheal Caltabiano and Territory Environment Minister Eva Lawler.
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A new environmental impact assessment system will be implemented in the Northern Territory, following the passing of the state’s amended Environment Protection Bill 2019.
Environment Minister Eva Lawler said the bill provides new approaches to environmental protection including environmental offsets and protected environmental areas.
“We are replacing outdated legislation and practice, ensuring we are strengthening governance and accountability for environmental decisions, supporting local jobs and providing greater certainty for the community and business,” Ms Lawler said.
“Our natural environment is one of our best assets and a huge part of what makes living in the Territory so special, good environmental policy is smart economic policy.”
According to Ms Lawler, the Environment Protection Act 2019 establishes clearer guidance on when a project must be referred to assessment for its impact on the environment, and sets out the criteria, principles and considerations by which a project must be assessed.
“This means that projects which may have a significant impact on the Territory’s environment will undergo rigorous environmental assessment, informing the decision to grant (or not) an environmental approval,” Ms Lawler said.
“It also includes provisions to ensure proponents and approval holders comply with their obligations to minimise unauthorised harm to the environment. Another first and a significant step to strengthening the environment protection regime in the Territory.”
The Northern Territory Government is considering recommendations after an independent review of the state’s container deposit scheme.
The review showed a 30 per cent increase in the number of containers recycled since the scheme commenced in 2012.
Additionally, 83 per cent of review participants considered the scheme successful.
According to Environment Minister Eva Lawler, the scheme generated more than $11 million for community groups, schools and Territorians in 2017-18.
“Protecting our environment creates jobs, and good environmental policy like the container deposit scheme is smart economic policy for the Territory,” Ms. Lawler said.
“We are making the Territory cleaner, increasing our recycling and removing litter from landfill – since 2012 more than half a billion containers have been processed under the container deposit scheme.”
The review highlighted 21 recommendations to improve the scheme, with the state government supporting 17 in full, two in principle and leaving the remaining two subject to further consideration.
Ms. Lawler said recommendations fall into five broad categories, accessibility in regional and remote areas, broadening the scheme to include currently exempt containers such as wine bottles and milk cartons, reducing the regulatory burden on industry, targeted community awareness and improved data collection and regular auditing.
“An implementation plan has been developed which will see the recommendations rolled out in phases over the next two years, which includes consultation with industry and engagement with local government and community organisations through the process,” Ms Lawler said.
More than 75 per cent of Northern Territory residents have said they believe the container deposit scheme (CDS) has been a success, according to a recent survey.
The survey also showed 81 per cent of territorians participate in the CDS because they are environmentally conscious.
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NT’s CDS began in January 2012 and provides a 10 cent refund on beverage containers returned through collection depots.
Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Acting Director Leonie Cooper said the survey component of the review into the CDS received 714 responses, including 646 from community organisations and members of the public.
“The CDS has delivered many benefits to the Territory community, such as financial boosts to schools and community groups, as well as increased recycling rates and reduced litter in our environment,” Ms Cooper said.
“More than 90 million containers were collected by collection depots last financial year (2016-17) from territorians, the most collected in any 12 month period since the scheme began.
“Collection depots paid out more than $9 million to territorians during this time and this further demonstrates that territorians continue to support the CDS,” she said.
In addition, the survey also collected 68 responses from non-governmental organisations, government employees and the industry, including CDS coordinators, depot operators and supply approval holders.
“Participating in the survey gave territorians an opportunity to contribute to improvements in consumer experience with CDS, and the environmental and community benefits that could come from improving access and operations of the CDS,” Ms Cooper said.
“I thank everyone who participated in the survey and provided valuable suggestions on how the CDS can be improved. These suggestions are currently being considered by the independent CDS review team, with the final review report due for release in August,” she said.
Ms Cooper said CDS infrastructure grants have provided businesses and organisations with one-off funding to improve public access across the NT.
The Northern Territory Government has announced they will be rolling out 90 green waste skip bins across Darwin suburbs that were hardest hit by Cyclone Marcus.
The move is a joint effort between the City of Darwin and the NT Government to remove accumulated green waste and reduce traffic into Shoal Bay.
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NT Treasurer Nicole Manison said the NT Government will fund the bin to assist
“Skip bins are being placed on verges and roadsides to assist residents with the disposal of green waste this weekend,” she said.
“The green waste skip bins will be removed Monday morning, so we urge residents to dispose of their green waste this weekend.”
NT Lord Mayor Kon Vatskalis said Territorians should only fill the bins to the top line of the skip.
“Contractors will be collecting the bins once full and returning them if necessary on Saturday. If you see a full bin call the number on the side of the bin,” he said.
Northern Territory environmental groups have claimed the State Government’s legislation banning plastic bags has failed in its intent to reduce unwanted litter.
The Northern Territory Government introduced laws prohibiting single-use plastic bags less than 35 microns in thickness in September 2011.
Heimo Schober, chief executive of the Keep Australia Beautiful Council NT, told ABC Radio Darwin that litter surveys had revealed plastic bag litter had increased in the past five years.
He said while surveys showed most plastic bag litter was found on roadsides and in car parks, they were unable to determine who was ditching them.
“Whether the bags are just being thrown on the ground or they’re being removed from bins and landfill by animals or wind, we’re not sure.
“It’s education that we need; we need people to be aware that a 15-minute use of a plastic bag that then lasts 10 years above ground, maybe thousands of years below ground, is just unacceptable.”
Glen Evans, project manager at the NT Environment Centre, told ABC News he had no reason to doubt the findings of Keep Australia Beautiful’s litter surveys.
But he said a lack of independent data both before and after the ban was implemented made it difficult to assess its efficacy.
“Personally, when I go into supermarkets I’ve definitely noticed an increase in the trend of people using reusable plastic bags,” he said.
“Initially the impact was that people didn’t want to pay [for reusable bags], but over time their behaviour has changed.”
Mr Evans agreed with Mr Schober’s stance that it was society’s attitude towards plastic bags that needed to change, rather than legislation.
“It’s not just thinking about recycling a product but looking at other ways we can minimise the amount of plastic bags that are being used.”
Lauren Moss, the Minister for Environment and Natural Resources, told ABC News a 2014 review of the ban showed it had reduced the number of bags being sold or given away by more than 10 million units.
A statement from the NT Environment Protection Authority said the review also found shoppers more frequently reused plastic bags and were “generally supportive of the ban”.
While Ms Moss did not comment on any future reviews of the ban, she admitted Queensland’s scheduled ban on plastic bags in 2018 would be a good opportunity to reflect on how it was working in the NT.
“Legislation is only one part of this. I think the community education and making sure we are really encouraging people to use those [reusable] bags more is really important,” she said.