Infrastructure Victoria releases interim waste report

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.

Related stories:

NSW EPA to develop 20-year waste strategy

The NSW EPA, in partnership with Infrastructure NSW, is developing a 20-year waste strategy for the state.

The strategy aims to set a 20-year vision for reducing waste, driving sustainable recycling markets and identifying and improving the state and regional waste infrastructure network.

Related stories:

It will also aim to provide the waste industry with certainty and set goals and incentives to ensure the correct infrastructure decisions are made to meet community needs.

Stakeholders, including local government, industry experts and the broader community, will work with the EPA over the next six months to provide an evidence base and address the key priorities for the waste and resource recovery sector.

This will include examining similar waste strategies in Australia and around the world.

A long-term vision and roadmap will include new long-term goals for waste generation and landfill diversion, new policy positions and strategic decisions that aim to avoid waste and improve resource recovery, and a plan for new or enhanced policies to improve waste collection.

A framework for the delivery of an integrated state network will be part of the roadmap, along with aims to align policy and regulation to achieve long term strategic objectives and a plan to strengthen data quality and access.

The strategy is expected to be completed by the end of 2019.

X