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Report recommends actions to improve waste management in Vic

The Victorian government is being urged to support the standardisation of bin lid colours across the state and to consider the introduction of a container deposit scheme (CDS), an inquiry into the state’s waste management has revealed.

On November 27, the Victorian Legislative Council’s Environment and Planning Committee tabled its final report on the inquiry into recycling and waste management in Victoria.

In a statement, committee chair Cesar Melhem said the inquiry was complex and important.

“As can be seen from the more than 700 submissions, the issue of recycling and waste management is one that matters to Victorians.”

The committee addressed the terms of reference in two parts: the first being the issue of the industrial fires that took place over the last few years as a result of the illegal or inappropriate stockpiling of dangerous chemicals.

The rest of the inquiry focusses on recycling and waste management in Victoria, particularly in the wake of changes to the export markets and the impact these changes have had Victoria’s waste industry and the community.

Among 46 recommendations made by the committee, is a push for greater consistency in kerbside bin collection services.

The report states that the committee believes standardisation of bin lid colours is a “straightforward way to help reduce confusion about municipal recycling”.

According to the committee, standardised bin lid colours across Victoria will facilitate a state-wide education campaign to let residents know which bin to deposit their recycling, landfill and organic waste.

The report stated that Metropolitan Waste and Resource Recovery Group CEO Rob Millard Group said that some metropolitan councils were updating their bin lid colours to the Australian Standard gradually as their municipal waste collection contracts were due for renewal. This allowed them to absorb the cost of changing the bins over the life of the contract.

However, the Victorian Auditor-General’s Office noted in its report, Recovering and Reprocessing Resources from Waste, that Sustainability Victoria had determined that it could cost $14 million to standardise bin colours across all Victorian councils.

The Environment and Planning Committee noted that some councils in Victoria may have plans to change their bin lid colours when updating their waste collection contracts, but the committee indicated the importance of urgent standardisation of bin lid colours across the state in order to facilitate a state-wide education campaign.

It recommends that the Victorian government provides all councils with funding to ensure all of them are complaint with the Standards Australia policy on bin lid colours within 12 months.

The committee further recommended that the Victorian government provide funding and support for all Victorian councils state-wide to introduce a separate bin for municipal glass recycling.

In relation to the a container deposit scheme (CDS), the committee recommended that the state government consider a CDS program to supplement improved municipal kerbside recycling services, including conducting a cost-benefit analysis and consideration of impacts on consumers and the environment.

Victoria is currently the only state/territory in Australia that hasn’t introduced or committed to introducing at CDS. The committee pointed out that CDS programs in other jurisdictions have substantially contributed to litter reduction.

In the Energy from Waste (EfW) space, the committee recognised room for growth of EfW technologies in the state. It recommended that the Victorian government implement EfW technologies, in conjunction with a future circular economy policy, as an alternative to landfill for residual waste. It suggested that the state government ensure that EfW projects are informed by regional requirements that take into consideration the long-term needs and capacities of local councils.

Furthermore, the Victorian government should develop a strong regulatory framework around environment and public health outcomes for any energy from waste technologies adopted in Victoria, including in relation to monitoring and reporting on air emissions, according to the committee. Further, clarity would need to be provided around hazardous waste disposal of by-products and residues.

The full findings of the report can be found here.