Local Government NSW (LGNSW) has welcomed Federal Labor’s pledge to introduce a six-year, $60 million National Recycling Fund as part of a bigger plan to help resolve the nation’s recycling crisis.
LGNSW president Linda Scott said the Plan was an example of the leadership the peak body had been calling for through its Save Our Recycling campaign.
“This is the sort of approach that is required to tackle the very real challenges facing Australia, following China’s move to more strictly enforce rules on the acceptance of foreign waste,” Scott said.
“With Malaysia and Thailand announcing a ban on plastic waste imports by 2021, and India this month banning plastic waste imports altogether, local governments are showing leadership by looking for innovative alternatives to build a better, more sustainable alternative in NSW.
“Other states have been forced to send some recycling to landfill, and although NSW has so far avoided this fate, time is fast running out to develop a system in which we can manage and recycle our waste here at home.”
The Recycling Fund, which the Federal Opposition said would start at a minimum $60 million with the option of increasing the amount over time, would be invested in innovative waste solutions, local government recycling facilities, and new approaches to tackle food waste.
It would be complemented by mandatory targets for all Federal government departments to purchase products made from recycled materials, including the requirement that all major roads funded by the Federal government contain recycled products.
Labor would also establish a national waste commissioner, impose a national ban on microbeads and single-use plastic bags within two years, and create a national container deposit scheme.
According to Scott, all levels of government must work collaboratively to respond and resolve the current crisis, and to seize the opportunity to develop smart, innovative, and most importantly, domestic recycling and waste management system.
“Councils in NSW are already seeking support to develop markets for recycled glass, paper and plastics; working proactively to improve the quality of what’s in the recycling bin, and reducing recycling contamination levels,” Scott said.
“The sector is also investing in innovation in recycling and waste management, with LGNSW’s Research and Innovation Fund this year providing seed funding for a recycled roads project by Nambucca Council and the University of Sydney.
“LGNSW’s Save Our Recycling campaign has focused on convincing the NSW government to play its part by reinvesting 100 per cent of the Waste Levy it currently collects from industry, councils and businesses.
“Some $727 million was collected last year via the NSW Waste Levy, and the 100 per cent reinvestment of these funds each and every year would have a dramatic impact on the recycling crisis.
“Our campaign has consistently argued that investing in recycling and waste management will mean more jobs, new industries and the creation of a circular economy that manages its own waste.
“All over Australia, there is huge public support for recycling because it is a practical measure that helps the environment. We need programs and packages like the one announced by Federal Labor to ensure these efforts don’t go, literally, to waste.”