Nine South Australian councils have committed to buying products made from recycled materials to support a circular economy.
The commitment was confirmed with the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on September 18, in which the councils are promoting reuse to reduce waste and drive down recycling costs.
The participating councils include Adelaide Hills Council, City of Burnside, City of Charles Sturt, Mount Barker District Council, Rural City of Murray Bridge, City of Norwood Payneham and St Peters, City of Onkaparinga, City of Port Adelaide Enfield, and City of Prospect.
Through the MoU, these councils are promising to prioritise the purchase of recycled-content products through the procurement process, and tracking and reporting recycled-content purchasing by weight.
Local Government Association (LGA) of South Australia president, Sam Telfer, said while all nine councils are looking to increase their purchasing of products and materials with recycled content, all but the City of Burnside have decided to adopt a target in relation to plastic materials.
“Following a successful initial set up in 2019/20, these councils have committed to buying back recycled plastic materials equivalent to 10 per cent of the weight of plastics collected in their council area, and they will seek to increase this amount in subsequent years until they are buying back 50 per cent of the weight of plastics collected.”
Adelaide Hills Council acting mayor, Nathan Daniell, said the pilot project aligns with the council’s broader commitment to reduce waste to landfill and improve recycling outcomes.
“The program will lead to improved knowledge and understanding of circular procurement through the increased purchase of products with recycled content. This will in turn provide stability and ongoing markets for recyclable material placed in the kerbside recycling bin.
“It’s essential that we continue to look at ways to reduce the amount of waste we send to landfill,” Daniell said.
This MoU, signed on-site at Advanced Plastic Recycling, is the beginning of a circular procurement pilot project, led by the LGA with the assistance of a $96,500 Green Industries SA grant.
Telfer said the MoU sends a clear message to industry about the types of products that councils want to purchase as part of their commitment to supporting the environment and improving their sustainability.
“The LGA has commissioned development of a suite of recycled-content products and materials available for purchase in South Australia. All manufacturers of these products have been contacted to provide information for inclusion in the menu, and are therefore aware of the project.
“We acknowledge that this menu will change over time, and have established systems and processes to keep it up to date. Participating councils will also include information about their commitment in their tender documentation to ensure that their suppliers are aware of it,” Telfer said.
Telfer, who is the mayor of the District Council of Tumby Bay, said his council has not been a part of the pilot project and hasn’t had the opportunity as yet to make decisions on involvement.
“Like all other councils around our state, we are watching the processes and outcomes of it.
“District Council Tumby Bay is a small regional council, which has many different challenges around waste management but, like all communities and councils at the moment, are looking to do as much as possible make effective and economic decisions on the way our waste is managed,” Telfer said.
South Australia’s Minister for Environment and Water, David Speirs, supported the project, which he said would help drive local demand for recycled materials, and support local reprocessing and remanufacturing opportunities in the state.
“Improved recycling and resource recovery reduces the amount of waste sent to landfill, which is not only good for our environment but good for the economy.”
For manufacturers, it is also an opportunity to take on the challenge of using recycled materials as the demand for these products will increase as councils commit to these MoU. Advanced Plastic Recycling CEO, Ryan Lokan, explained that his company already prevents 1,500 tonnes of plastic and 1,500 tonnes of wood from entering landfill each year, which is now expected to increase.
“The greatest benefit coming from mandatory buy back is the demand created. Demand drives innovation and it is companies like ours that will rise to the challenge to meet the requirements for recycled material,” Lokan said.