Plastic bag litter drops 30 per cent in WA

The amount of plastic bag litter in Western Australia has fallen by 29.9 per cent, according to the latest National Litter Index Report.

The drop follows the state’s introduction of a lightweight plastic bag ban in July last year.

Environment Minister Stephen Dawson said the National Litter Index also indicates that the total volume and number of items littered in Western Australia has fallen by 15.7 per cent and 8.5 per cent respectively.

According to Mr Dawson, the state also saw a 18.3 per cent reduction in glass litter, and a 7.1 per cent reduction in paper litter.

“The latest index also found less litter at West Australian beaches with a 58.6 per cent drop, retail precincts falling 46.9 per cent, shopping centres down 9.3 per cent, major roads and highways dropping 8.2 per cent and recreational parks down 1.5 per cent, compared to the previous report,” Mr Dawson said.

“Higher levels of litter were counted on residential streets, rising 4.7 per cent, industrial precincts 3.5 per cent and at car parks, increasing by more than 27 per cent.”

Mr Dawson said cigarette butts and cigarette packaging continue to be the most littered item, making up almost one third of the states litter.

“It is never ok to litter your cigarette butts. There is a serious risk of bushfire caused by disposing of lit cigarettes, as well as being harmful to our wildlife,” Mr Dawson said.

“To raise awareness of this major problem, Keep Australia Beautiful WA has launched a campaign highlighting the effects of cigarette butts on the environment and remind smokers they face fines of up to $500 for littering cigarette butts.”

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EOI’s sought for WA Contaminated Sites Committee

The Western Australian Government is seeking expressions of interest to join the state’s Contaminated Sites Committee, which determines appeals of contaminated site matters.

The independent committee, established in 2006 under the Contaminated Sites Act 2003, makes decisions regarding clean up, remediation responsibilities and classifications of contaminated sites.

Environment Minister Stephen Dawson said all current Contaminated Sites Committee members’ roles expire shortly, with three in October and two, including the chairperson, in December.

“WA’s Contaminated Sites Act makes it compulsory to report known or suspected contaminated sites, making this among the most progressive contaminated sites legislation in Australia,” Mr Dawson said.

“The committee has acted effectively in resolving more than 150 appeals over more than a decade, and the new members will no doubt play an important role in ensuring this continues.”

Mr Dawson said government is seeking committee members with knowledge, skills and expertise in environmental or contaminated site management, as well as legal practitioners with experience in environmental or property law.

Expressions of interest close 20 September.

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Funding available for WA waste sector

The Western Australian government has announced a further $1.17 million in funding for projects that will support the state’s waste and recycling sector.

Environment Minister Stephen Dawson said the latest round of funding supports the continued development of waste and recycling infrastructure in Western Australia, and reinforces government’s commitment to a cleaner, more sustainable environment.

“Waste is a priority issue for the state government, and we are committed to funding initiatives through the Community and Industry Engagement program,” Mr Dawson said.

“This program gives industry and community groups financial backing for projects that contribute to Western Australia becoming a sustainable, low-waste, circular economy.”

Projects to improve the recovery and reuse of glass, construction and demolition materials, food organics and garden organics, as well as those that encourage behaviour change, are encouraged to apply for a funding grant.

“I encourage the community to access this funding for initiatives that help reduce waste generation, divert waste from landfill and help educate the community and industry,” Mr Dawson said.

Past successful recipients include Green Machines Lab for a plastic reprocessing plant and Good Samaritan Industries for a cardboard recycler system that converts scrap cardboard into packaging material.

Grants are provided as part of the Waste Avoidance and Resource Recovery Strategy 2030, and will be made available through the Community and Industry Engagement program administered by the Waste Authority.

Applications 23 September.

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WA announces CDS launch date

Western Australian Environment Minister Stephen Dawson has announced the state’s new container deposit scheme, Containers for Change, will launch June 2, 2020.

Western Australians will be able to return and recycle their eligible containers at any Containers for Change refund point and receive a 10 cents refund per container.

“Our June 2 start date will give the local charities and businesses, that will operate refund points and be providers in the scheme, enough time to organise the infrastructure and staffing they need to make their participation a success from day one,” Mr Dawson said.

More than 170 full-time or flexible refund points will be open for business in June next year, with 229 refund points to open by the end of the scheme’s first year.

“An array of refund points will be available – from over-the-counter depots providing on-the-spot refunds, to ‘Bag Drops’ that provide the convenience of a ‘drop and go’ facility, with refunds deposited into customers nominated bank accounts once their containers are counted,” Mr Dawson said.

“Mobile refund points and reverse vending machines will also be in operation.”

Mr Dawson said beverage containers account for 44 per cent of all litter by volume in Western Australia.

“WA’s container deposit scheme will create positive change for our environment by encouraging people not to litter, and provide a fundraising opportunity for schools and community groups across the state,” Mr Dawson said.

“Containers for Change is a great win for WA’s environment, for jobs, for our local community and sporting groups always looking for new ways to raise much-needed funds, and for our kids to learn about the benefits of recycling.”

According to Mr Dawson, over the next 20 years the scheme is estimated to result in 706 million fewer beverage containers littered, 6.6 billion fewer beverage containers sent to landfill and 5.9 billion more containers being recycled.

“Containers for Change will also help create 500 jobs across the state, with a key objective of the scheme to support employment of people with disability and the long-term unemployed,” Mr Dawson said.

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New WA Waste Authority board

Western Australian Environment Minister Stephen Dawson has announced a new five-member Waste Authority board.

The board is tasked with guiding the Waste Authority’s implementation of the Waste Avoidance and Resource Recovery Strategy 2030, while driving key programs and offering advice to Mr Dawson.

Former WA Chamber of Minerals and Energy CEO Reg Howard-Smith has been appointed Waste Authority chairperson, while Workpower CEO Lee Broomhall has been appointed deputy chairperson.

“There was an extremely strong field of applicants, so I’m pleased to welcome the team of people who will help realise the state government’s vision to reuse or recycle at least 75 per cent of waste generated in WA by 2030,” Mr Dawson said.

“I look forward to working with these five talented people, who bring a wide range of experience to this board – including shaping strategic direction and policy, urban sustainability, project and waste management and exposure to the local government and planning sectors.”

Bloodwood Tree Association CEO Kelly Howlett, Southern Metropolitan Regional Council CEO Tim Youé and Josh Byrne & Associates Director Joshua Byrne have been appointed board members.

“I would like to thank outgoing chairperson Marcus Geisler, who has played an instrumental role on the board since 2008, outgoing deputy chairperson Jenny Bloom and the other outgoing members Victoria Bond, Neil Foley and Glen McLeod,” Mr Dawson said.

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WA awards waste avoidance and recovery grants

More than $2.29 million has been allocated between 28 projects for waste avoidance and recovery in Western Australia, as part of the latest round of Community and Industry Engagement grants.

Western Australian Environment Minister Stephen Dawson, who announced the recipients earlier this week, said awarded projects were selected following an independent panel assessment of 90 applications.

“The community shift to treating waste as a resource shows we are well on our way to owning our impact,” Mr Dawson said.

“In our waste strategy released earlier this year, the state government was clear that we want at least 75 per cent of waste generated to be reused or recycled by 2030.”

Selected projects were broken up into two streams, with awards for the general stream including $93,000 for the Western Australia plastic processing plant and $81,450 for a Mindarie regional council FOGO trial.

Infrastructure stream grants include $114,000 for the reuse and recycle shop baler upgrade and $310,000 for the Old Quarry Road transfer station and reuse shop.

According to Mr Dawson, funding decisions were made to improve the recovery and reuse of focus materials from the WA Waste Avoidance and Resource Recovery Strategy 2030 including plastic, glass, construction and demolition and FOGO.

“A number of grant recipients have received funding to develop WA’s plastics recycling capacity, including two grants to Greenbatch for reprocessing equipment and education facilities, and a grant to Precious Plastics Margaret River for a community recycling project in the south west,” Mr Dawson said.

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WA releases CDS planning statement

The Western Australian Government is providing guidance to local government and industry on the location and development of CDS infrastructure, with the release of a planning commission position statement.

The statement lists five types of CDS infrastructure including container collection cages, in shop over-the-counter return points, reverse vending machines, container deposit recycling centres and large-scale facilities.

“Proponents seeking to install CDS infrastructure should engage with the relevant local government as part of the site selection process,” the statement reads.

“This early engagement will allow local government to assess if the site being proposed is appropriate, and how it might relate to the CDS network more broadly as well as servicing considerations.”

Planning Minister Rita Saffioti said to maximise the effectiveness of the CDS in reducing litter and increasing recycling, it is important for associated infrastructure to be conveniently located in communities across WA.

“The position statement also aims to ensure the location, design and siting of CDS infrastructure is complementary to the character, functionality and amenity of surrounding neighbourhoods,” Ms Saffioti said.

“Encouraging more recycling in the community is a priority of the state government and we can achieve better outcomes by setting guidelines through the planning system.”

According to the statement, key issue for consideration include how the infrastructure fits in the surrounding built context? Is it universally accessible? Does the infrastructure necessitate the provision of waste bins? And does the location allow for passive surveillance?

Environment Minster Stephen Dawson said a clear and consistent planning approvals process for the collection network is crucial to ensuring appropriately located refund points.

“Having approval criteria aligned across local government areas will also help operators who plan to set up refund points in multiple locations,” Mr Dawson said.

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Coordinator appointed for WA container deposit scheme

The Western Australian Government has selected Return Recycle Renew to operate the state’s container deposit scheme.

Environment Minister Stephen Dawson said Return Recycle Renew would be responsible for running the scheme and ensuring all government objectives are met.

“Overseen by a board, the scheme coordinator will manage payments from manufacturers and importers of eligible beverage products, and will be responsible for establishing and implementing collection and logistics networks,” Mr Dawson said.

“An open and competitive process was used to identify the preferred scheme coordinator and I’m encouraged that Return Recycle Renew is best placed to deliver a high performing scheme for our state.”

According to Mr. Dawson, Return Recycle Renew has been appointed for seven years and must meet all recycling targets to be considered for reappointment.

“One of the first tasks for Return Recycle Renew is to run an open application process to establish the collection network,” Mr Dawson said.

“This will include refund points, transport and processing facilities and support for social enterprises to participate.”

Mr Dawson said WA will have more refund points per head than any other state or territory in Australia.

“As a regional Member of Parliament I want to be sure that remote communities do not miss out on the opportunities arising from this scheme,” Mr Dawson said.

“That’s why there will be at least one refund point in every remote town with 500 people or more and we will be looking at a range of other options for smaller communities.”

Mr. Dawson said as beverage containers account for 44 per cent of the volume of litter in WA, effective management of the scheme is crucial to reducing litter and improving the state’s recycling rates.

A chairperson and community representative will be appointed by the end of the month, with remaining directors appointed shortly after.

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ACT proposes single-use plastic ban

The ACT Government has released a discussion paper asking for contributions from the community on phasing out single-use plastics.

City Services Minister Chris Steel said the state could no longer ignore responsibility for plastics that litter the environment.

“Single-use plastic is commonly used for food packaging and includes items intended to be used only once before they are thrown away,” Mr Steel said.

“Single-use plastic litters our waterways, city parks and bush landscapes and goes into landfill where it may take hundreds or even thousands of years to break down.”

Mr Steel said the paper asks the community which problematic and unnecessary single-use plastics government should focus on including plastic straws and cutlery, disposable plates, cups and coffee lids, polystyrene plastic food containers and beverage cups and other non-recyclable plastics.

Proposed items that will be excluded from government action at this time include sanitary items, nappies and incontinence products, reusable plastic bags roughly 35 microns in thickness, health related sterile items, plastic beverage containers and microbeads — which are already being phased out by the territory.

“We are taking real action to become Australia’s most sustainable city,” Mr Steel said.

The European Parliament last year voted to ban single-use plastics in the EU by 2021.

Similarly, South Australia and the City of Hobart are also looking at phasing out single-use plastics.

“It is time that the ACT takes responsible action to reduce single-use plastics and build a circular economy where we reduce our reliance on these products and move to better alternatives,” Mr Steel said.

According to Mr Steel, while the ACT has already acted to reduce single-use plastic bags, through the introduction of the plastic shopping bag ban in 2011, it has the opportunity to do more to reduce the territory’s plastic footprint.

“It is still common place to see takeaway shops continuing to use plastic-foam takeaway containers like it is still the 1980s. Supermarkets also continue to sell plastic plates, cups and cutlery – when it seems like there are clear alternatives already being sold on their own shelves,” Mr Steel said.

“We want to hear from the community about how we can reduce the use of certain single-use plastics where there are clear alternatives that are good for the environment and practical for business, industry and consumers.”

Mr Steel said any decisions to phase-out single use plastics will likely have impacts on business, institutions and ACT residents, including people with a disability, and invites these groups to contribute to the discussion.

“We know from the plastic straw ban in other parts of the world that we need to consider the social equity impact on people with a disability, and I welcome their contribution on how we can responsibly manage our environment while taking these issues into account,” Mr Steel said.

“I encourage all interested or affected Canberrans to join the conversation and tell us their ideas about what they would like us to consider in phasing-out unnecessary and problematic single-use plastics.”

The ACT discussion paper follows a similar announcement in Western Australia last week, with Minister for the Environment Stephen Dawson asking the public to contribute to the Let’s Not Draw the Short Straw – Reduce Single-Use Plastics paper.

Last year the Western Australian government banned lightweight plastic bags and instructed government agencies to stop buying avoidable single-use plastic items.

Mr Dawson also announced a funding partnership between the state government and the Plastic Free Foundation, a not-for-profit organisation committed to the reduction of plastic use in every day life.

The Plastic Free Foundation has been awarded $326,725 in state government funding, with an extra $484,126 coming from Lotterywest, to engage individuals and communities in in the state to reduce plastic waste.

“Waste problems are a shared legacy. The state government wants to hear your practical ideas on how to avoid and reduce single-use plastics so we can protect our environment for future generations,” Mr Dawson said.

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Waste advisory group to support reform in WA

An advisory group tasked with providing direction on waste policy and legislation, has been set up as part of the Western Australian government’s continued push to improve the state’s recycling and waste management policies.

Following the release of the Waste Avoidance and Resource Recovery Strategy 2030, Environment Minister Stephen Dawson has established the Waste Reform Advisory Group to help inform the future direction of waste reform in the State.

The new advisory group will continue the work of the Waste Taskforce – convened by Mr Dawson as a response to the China National Sword Policy – and be the ongoing mechanism to ensure up-to-date information on waste matters is maintained.

The advisory group will provide advice on the direction and development of waste policy and legislation in Western Australia, including the key reforms outlined in the State’s new waste strategy and priority waste targets.

“The Waste Reform Advisory Group’s first task will be to consider an issues paper to guide legislative reforms to encourage the use of waste derived materials,” Mr Dawson said.

“I am keen to ensure legislative and policy reforms are developed collaboratively and fit for purpose to ensure we deliver outcomes in the long-term best interests of the State, the community and industry.”

The Waste Reform Advisory Group will be chaired by the Department of Water and Environmental Regulation’s Director General Mike Rowe, and will include representatives from the Waste Authority, local government, peak industry and resource bodies, community groups and non-government organisations, and material recovery operators.

The group’s first meeting is anticipated to be in April 2019.

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