Western Sydney Councils release four year plan for waste

Western Sydney councils have joined up to reduce waste, increase recycling and prevent illegal dumping under a newly launched four-year strategy.

The Western Sydney Regional Waste Avoidance and Resource Recovery Strategy 2017 – 2021 is a blueprint for a cleaner and more sustainable future.

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The Regional Waste Strategy has received $120,000 in funding from the NSW EPA under the Waste Less Recycle More initiative, which uses funding gathered from the waste levy.

Blue Mountain, Blacktown, Cumberland, Fairfield, Hawkesbury, The Hills, Liverpool, Parramatta and Penrith councils have all committed to participating in the plan.

Western Sydney Regional Organisation of Councils (WSROC) Vice President Barry Calvert said waste, like water and electricity, is a critical service for any city, delivered almost solely by local government in partnership with industry.

“Councils are constantly working to deliver safe, sustainable and affordable waste services to the community. This is no easy task in a region experiencing rapid growth, increasing household waste generation, and changing recycling markets,” he said.

“Working together allows councils to share knowledge, find efficiencies and work strategically to meet these challenges.”

Western Sydney Regional Organisation of Councils (WSROC)
WSROC CEO Charles Casuscelli and WSROC Vice President Cr Barry Calvert.

Western Sydney’s first regional waste strategy was developed in 2014, which has helped local councils cut the percentage of household waste going to landfill from 49 per cent to 43 per cent.

“Our goal is to reach 30 per cent by 2025,” said Cr Calvert.

“Landfill space in Sydney is filling up fast. At the same time, we have a million additional residents moving into the region.

“We must reduce the amount of waste we send to landfill if council waste services are to remain affordable and sustainable well into the future,” he said.

Cr Calvert said the WSROC is working closely with the community to reduce the amount of waste created and to increase the rates of recycling.

“At the regional level councils will work with industry and the state government to identify and support new recycling methods, investigate new technologies and plan for future waste needs,” he said.

EPA and Roads and Maritime Services partner

Roads and Maritime Services, NSW Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) and ten Western Sydney councils have partnered to reduce and prevent roadside litter in Sydney’s West in the month of April.

The first-of-its-kind partnership was formed through the Western Sydney Regional Organisation of Councils (WSROC) regional waste strategy following ongoing discussions with state government agencies.

“Last year Western Sydney councils collectively spent $14 million on litter management, making it a major impost for councils and their communities,” said WSROC President Cr Stephen Bali.

“This isn’t just a public amenity issue, roadside litter can increase risks other road users, and in the case of cigarette butts, cause dangerous grass fires.”

The campaign will include coordinated enforcement activities and roadside litter pick-ups, as well as promotion of the Report to EPA website that allows members of the public to report littering offences by noting the vehicle’s registration plate and location of the offence.

“Currently, roadside litter is managed by a number of different levels and sectors of government,” said Cr Bali.

“EPA polices littering from vehicles, however, once that litter hits the ground it becomes the responsibility of either local councils or Roads and Maritime – depending on whether it is a local or state road.

“This division of responsibility can only be overcome by collaboration. Working together will improve outcomes for all parties – preventing litter falling through the cracks,” said Cr Bali.

WSROC began working with the NSW EPA and Roads and Maritime through the NSW Government’s Tidy Roads Steering Committee. Key industry players such as Roads and Maritime Services, NSW EPA, McDonalds, Woolworths and the Australian Food and Grocery Council have also been involved in discussions around litter.

In a statement, Roads and Maritime Services said roadside litter cost the organisation around $9 million last year across NSW. This isn’t just costly for Roads and Maritime, but ultimately for the community.

It said the campaign is the result of ongoing collaboration between WSROC, EPA and Roads and Maritime; a partnership that is essential for a coordinated approach to litter.

Roads and Maritime Services said it is working toward replicating partnerships like this with other joint organisations across the state.

“The Report to EPA website gives Western Sydney residents the power to make a difference – to report litterers, and ultimately reduce the local clean-up bill,” said Barry Buffier, Chair and CEO of NSW EPA.”

“Councils have a history of effective grass-roots engagement with their communities, and we hope this partnership will bolster local engagement with the state-wide Hey Tosser program,” said Mr Buffier.