Victoria’s recycling system will be the subject of a parliamentary inquiry in a bid to propose solutions to the struggling recycling sector as many councils continue sending waste from kerbside collections to landfill after waste processing company SKM Services was banned from accepting more recyclables at several of its sites.
Back in February, the Victorian EPA shutdown three plants operated by SKM, amid fears stockpiles of recyclables posed a fire hazard. The move has left the sector under pressure, as SKM was responsible for collecting about half of the state’s kerbside recycling.
More than 30 councils have contracts with SKM, but some managed to find alternatives to avoid landfill in recent weeks. For example, Wyndham Council has signed a contract with Visy to process their recycling, while the City of Greater Geelong has held talks with alternative recycling companies.
However, some councils have admitted they now have no choice but to send waste to landfill, and since the shutdown, thousands of recyclables have now been dumped in landfill at a massive cost to affected councils.
The parliamentary inquiry, proposed by the Victorian Greens, was endorsed by the state parliament’s upper house last week. The Environmental and Planning Committee will examine Victoria’s recycling and waste management systems and deliver a report by August 13.
According to Greens minister Ellen Sandell, the government needed to show greater support for a state-based recycling industry.
“Victorians are doing the right thing and recycling at home, but right now there are no assurances of where it ends up. Government support for a state-based recycling industry is long overdue,” Sandell said.
The EPA said it will allow SKM to reopen its Laverton, Geelong and Coolaroo facilities once the environmental watchdog is satisfied with remediation efforts.