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Victorian government loans receiver $10m to get SKM sites up and running

The Victorian government is giving KordaMentha a $10 million loan to help clean-up SKM Recycling sites, after the company went into receivership leaving dozens of councils with no option but to send recycling to landfill.

On August 21, SKM was placed into receivership after it was announced the company owed $100m, with $60m of that owed to Cleanaway Waste Management

KordaMentha’s Mark Korda and Bryan Webster were appointed as the receivers and managers.

Korda said the receivers aimed to get the business back to capacity, which will now be made easier with the loan from the Victorian government.

The loan will help clear waste stockpiles and fund essential maintenance work to get SKM’s plants back up and running, while meeting strict environmental and safety standards.

The Laverton site will be the first to return to operation with stockpile clearing to begin within the week and some processing expected to start within five weeks.

Further work is required to bring the Hallam, Geelong and Coolaroo facilities back on line.

Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change, Lily D’Ambrosio, said the loan is the fastest way of getting recyclable materials sent to processing sites instead of landfill.

“An overhaul of kerbside collection is the next step in getting our recycling sector back on track by reducing contamination and improving the quality of recyclable materials.

“We’re getting on with delivering a strong and resilient local recycling sector that the Victorian public expects and deserves,” D’Ambrosio said.

In order to reduce waste heading to landfill, the Victorian government is also beginning the process of overhauling kerbside recycling in partnership with local government and industry.

Through September, a major overhaul of kerbside collection will be a major focus, with innovative and cost-effective designs sought for projects such as additional household bins and reducing waste contamination.

Waste Management and Resource Recovery Association of Australia (WMRR) CEO, Gayle Sloan, commended the Victorian government for taking proactive action to manage some of the ongoing challenges in the state with the $10m loan and its plan to overhaul kerbside collection.

“It is encouraging to see that the government is keenly aware that money alone will not fix the systemic issues in Victoria’s waste and resource recovery industry; robust policy and planning are needed to drive long-term change across the state,” Sloan said.

“However, WMRR cautions the government against simply turning to additional bins as a solution because doing so means placing extra costs on councils and householders and increasing truck movements. Emphasis must be on solutions that require waste generators and producers taking responsibility for the waste they design and paying for the cost of managing this waste.

“The yellow bin was established to take single material packaging types like glass, PET and HDPE. Instead, what we see on the shelves is a proliferation of packaging that includes multiple materials. How can you sort a clean bale of PET bottles for example when the lid and label alone account for 10 per cent contamination by weight? The time really has come for significant national action on product design and material selection, and the creation of stronger Extended Producer Schemes,” Sloan explained.

She highlighted that one possible solution would be introducing a Container Deposit Scheme (CDS), which can provide a cleaner stream of product for remanufacturers, particularly glass – with the benefit of not placing additional costs on councils.

“WMRR has been calling for the much-needed development of local remanufacturing and markets to absorb Australian recycled material and a CDS creates cleaner streams of product; better streams for remanufacturing. It’s a no-brainer.

“Ultimately, waste management and resource recovery is a shared responsibility and more must be done to encourage positive change in materials generated, consumption behaviours, and the role of the entire supply chain to fund these services,” Sloan said.

It’s expected that an expression of interest for waste management projects in Victoria will be released following this consultation to design the new kerbside collection service that will start from 2021.