Further investment in waste recovery and processing infrastructure is needed for economic growth in South Australia, according to the state’s newly released 20-year infrastructure strategy.
A report commissioned by the Environment Department has highlighted the seriousness of Australia’s waste crisis and the inadequacy of government’s response, according to Shadow Assistant Environment Minister Josh Wilson.
“Global recycling market analysis prepared by consulting firm Sustainable Resource Use has warned the Federal Government that Australia may need to increase local recycling processing capability by 400 per cent,” Mr Wilson said.
“This comes at a time when the scale of plastic recycling in Australia is lower now than it was in 2005, and around the country plastic is being stockpiled, which presents a fire risk.”
According to Mr Wilson, the new analysis shows market demand for recycled materials such as paper and cardboard, plastics and glass remains volatile.
“This only highlights the need for serious action to dramatically increase Australia’s reprocessing capacity and the corresponding demand for such products,” he said.
The Western Sydney Regional Organisation of Councils (WSROC) has called on the NSW Government to direct waste levy funds collected in the region to sustainable waste management programs for western Sydney.
According to WSROC President Barry Calvert, the NSW Government has reinvested only $20 million of the $225 million collected from western Sydney waste levies over the last five years.
“Each year councils pay the NSW Government a significant levy on waste sent to landfill, the aim of the levy is admirable – to discourage landfill and encourage recycling and reuse – however, only a small percentage is actually used for this purpose.
“Government should be using waste levy money for the purpose it was collected – to promote a more sustainable waste sector,” he said.
Levy rates for NSW are $81.30 per tonne in regional areas and $141.20 per tonne in metropolitan areas like western Sydney.
Mr Calvert said given that western Sydney processes the majority of the cities waste, improving recycling and resource recovery in the area is critical.
“We should be seeing $234 million invested in helping councils adapt to the new market conditions caused by the China National Sword Policy, investing in the development of local recycling markets and waste processing infrastructure, and implementing measures to reduce waste generation,” Mr Calvert said.
The state governments half yearly budget review, released late last year, showed the treasury collected $769 million in 2017-18.
At the Save Our Recycling Election Summit earlier the year Local Government NSW voiced similar concerns, calling for 100 per cent of waste levy funds to be re-invested into sustainable waste management initiatives for the state.