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Extended deadlines don’t mitigate the urgency for recycling solution

Major recycling reform in NSW is at a critical stage and the decision to push back a ban on waste glass exports from next month to next year, does not alleviate the urgent need for this reform to progess, according to Local Government NSW (LGNSW).

LGNSW president Linda Scott said that as more and more countries were refusing to take Australia’s recycled waste exports, the Federal Government’s deadline extensions were now irrelevant and ineffective.

“There’s no point extending waste export deadlines if the countries we export waste to are no longer accept it,” Scott said.

“We are facing a looming waste and recycling crisis and new government funding for recycling initiatives and reprocessing facilities is needed now.

“LGNSW has been calling for an overhaul of waste and recycling management for years. It’s frustrating and worrying that even with looming international deadlines, the state and federal governments have not made significant inroads into dealing with waste glass or other recyclables.

“The recent fast tracking of several waste and recycling facilities by the Department of Planning is a positive step, but it is not enough to keep up with mounting demand.

“Councils across NSW are facing ever-increasing costs to recycle materials collected at kerbside in the absence of State or Federal investment in reprocessing and remanufacturing facilities,”she explained.

According to Scott, the NSW Government collects about $800 million annually through its Waste Levy, but currently reinvests only about 18 per cent into recycling and waste management.

“That’s money that should be being reinvested to deal with the growing waste and recycling crisis facing NSW.”

At the crossroads

LGNSW has developed a comprehensive plan, At the crossroads: The state of waste and recycling in NSW, on behalf of NSW councils, which Scott said was designed to address the looming recycling crisis facing the state as part of its Save Our Recycling campaign.

“The amount of waste we are generating is increasing, while recycling and waste diversion rates are stagnating,” Scott said.

LGNSW is calling on the NSW Government to:

  • Provide funding to councils to develop regional waste plans and deliver priority infrastructure;
  • Increase procurement of recycled goods made with domestic content and support a circular economy;
  • Deliver statewide education campaigns to promote waste avoidance and recycling; and
  • Introduce producer responsibility schemes for problematic materials.

“This four-point plan is designed to ensure recycling that would have previously been shipped offshore can be dealt with at home, with the added benefit of creating jobs and boosting local economies,” Scott said.

“We’re encouraged that the NSW Government has been listening to us. In March this year it announced a series of proposals to tackle the use of plastics, reduce waste and pollution and increase recycling with the release of its NSW Plastics Plan and 20 Year Waste Strategy discussion papers.

“The challenge now is to ensure these proposals are implemented and that they are backed by recurrent funding sourced from the reinvestment of the Waste Levy,” she added.