Report shows WA falling short on recycling targets

A paper recycling plant
Western Australia is sending less waste to landfill but is not meeting its resource recovery targets according to a new report.

The Department of Environment Regulation published the report, Recycling Activity In Western Australia 2014-15, online in late May. The report was compiled by ASK Waste Management, who undertook an extensive survey with the recycling industry between August and December 2015, as well as incorporating data from other industry research and reports.

The analysis aims to track the state’s progress against the targets set under the Waste Authority’s (2012) WA Waste Strategy Creating the Right Environment.

The targets are:

  • Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) Perth Metropolitan Region (PMR) – 50% by 2015 and 65% by 2020
  • MSW major regional centres – 30% by 2015 and 50% by 2020
  • Commercial and industrial (C&I) waste (all WA) – 55% by 2015 and 70% by 2020
  • Construction and demolition waste (all WA) – 60% by 2015 (up from 29%) and 75% by 2020.

The new report shows that total waste generation in WA was estimated at 6,234,940 tonnes in 2014-15, with that from the PMR contributing more than 4,620,160 tonnes. Across WA, this reflects a drop in waste generation of approximately 445,000 tonnes compared with 2013-14. This decrease was reflected in statewide landfill estimates, with an 11 per cent (461,000 tonnes) reduction in waste to landfill in 2014-15.

Survey respondents reported that 2,621,540 tonnes of recyclable material was recovered in 2014-15. The C&D sector recovered 48% (1,266,390 tonnes) of all recyclable material processed, followed by the C&I sector at 31% and MSW sector at 20%

The report finds that 89% of the state’s recycling activity occurred in the PMR and only 11% in regional areas.

The authors state that: “There has been a sustained positive trend to the C&I and C&D diversion rates for WA, however there has been little change in the MSW diversion rate for the Perth Metropolitan Region since 2011.”

Since 2010, C&I resource recovery has climbed from 28% to 52% for 2014-15, C&D has increased from 31% to 42%, bit MSW has remained fairly static at 40% after peaking at 45% in 2012-13.

ASK also use the report to identify a number of barriers to increased resource recovery in WA. These include scrap metals being stockpiled due to low commodity prices and high transport costs, and overly complicated planning and environmental approvals process for organics recyclers seeking to establish new facilities.

The full report,which includes details of the survey used and sources of other data, is available from the DER website.

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