VIC seeks consultation on new Waste Authority and recycling Act

VIC seeks consultation on new Waste Authority and recycling Act

Victoria’s proposed Waste Authority will provide guidance and strategic leadership on overall state-wide direction, including through infrastructure and contingency planning, according to the state government’s recently released options paper.

The Victorian Government is seeking input on the proposed Waste Authority and new waste and recycling Act, with two online information sessions scheduled 23 and 28 September.

Establishing the new Act and Authority by 2021 is a key commitment of the state government’s Recycling Victoria policy, released February this year.

The policy aims to support a resilient recycling system and was developed in response to significant market shocks felt by the sector in recent years.

As stated in the options paper, the new Act and Authority will provide the state government with a system-wide view, allowing it to more effectively oversee the waste and recycling sector, including predicting and responding to future market shocks.

While there are several pieces of legislation regulating aspects of Victoria’s waste and recycling sector, there is currently no legislation that considers the the sector as a whole, including setting objectives and standards and ensuring market stability.

“Roles and responsibilities are not always clear, waste and recycling services do not always meet expectations, there is little information or transparency in the performance of the sector and Victoria’s waste and recycling market lacks resilience to market shocks,” the paper reads.

“Victorians have a clear interest in the effectiveness of the state’s waste and recycling system, and at present there are few levers, and inadequate information, to intervene.”

The paper outlines a proposed model for the Authority, highlighting the need to underpin it with proportionate powers and regulations, as well as the flexibility and capability to respond to market needs as they arise.

The Waste Authority will have new powers to set performance standards and increase the transparency and accountability of the system and its actors.

Additionally, it will be able to intervene in the market to ensure stability and the achievement of state-wide outcomes, with the ability to scale up the nature of its market intervention if required.

“This will include the ability to coordinate collaborative procurement of waste and recycling services by multiple local councils, mandate inclusion of contract clauses to ensure state-wide outcomes, compel provision of data and implement new schemes to address particularly problematic areas of the market,” the paper reads.

Functions are grouped into three key areas: consistent recycling and waste practices, strengthening councils’ contribution to improving performance of the system and ensuring providers contribute to Victoria’s waste and recycling goals.

While the focus of the Waste Authority will initially be the kerbside system, the legislation will be designed broadly, allowing the Authority to undertake functions in other areas of the market, including commercial and industrial, construction and demolition and hazardous waste.

“Capturing these waste types in new reporting obligations will be particularly important in ensuring a comprehensive view of material flows throughout the state,” the paper reads.

The Waste Authority will have strong connections to regional and rural Victoria and to local government, including partnering with and providing expert advice to local council waste procurement officers.

It is proposed that the Waste Authority be established as a new entity that will take on some of the functions of existing state government entities.

These include all of the functions of the seven Waste and Resource Recovery Groups, and the infrastructure planning function currently being performed by Sustainability Victoria.

Sustainability Victoria envisions a strong model of collaboration and partnership with the new Authority, Interim Chair Vicky Darling said, with improved transparency and better outcomes for Victoria.

“As outlined in the Recycling Victoria policy, transformation of the waste and resource recovery sector is needed to deliver an effective and resilient system that will benefit all Victorians. Options for new legislation and new governance arrangements is a critical part of this reform,” Darling said.

“We encourage and welcome feedback and look forward to hearing views from across the sector and wider community during the forthcoming consultation and engagement process that will inform the final governance model of the new Authority.”

Consultation closes 9 October, with the state government set to respond to and publish feedback by November.

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