Facility fire leaves councils short of recycling options

Local Government Association SA is asking the State Government to address the impacts of a fire that has destroyed Visy’s Wingfield recycling plant.

Twelve South Australian councils have contracts with Visy and will be immediately impacted by the destruction of the plant.

The LGA is working with councils and state government agencies to fully understand the impacts of the fire and to ensure coordinated support for councils.

LGA CEO Matt Pinnegar has called on the state government to provide immediate support and assistance to councils to ensure they can continue providing recycling services to their communities.

“Neither the councils nor the waste collectors involved have the capacity to store the material for any longer than the short term,” said Pinnegar “Councils need assistance from the State Government to make arrangements for transport or storage of recyclable material until more suitable interim arrangements can be put in place. The State Government is the ultimate decision maker as it is the Minister for the Environment who has the power to grant approvals for storage or disposal of waste, the Minister who can grant urgent exemptions to regulatory controls and the Minister who administers the Green Industry Fund.”

“The Minister has $112 million in the Green Industry Fund and councils and ratepayers currently contribute over $45 million a year in solid waste levy payments.  This money must now be used to support councils in providing communities with continuity of recycling and shield ratepayers from the inevitable short term cost increase.

Councils have continued to provide recycling services through a period of instability in the waste and recycling sectors.

“In the last couple of years councils have dealt with the global impacts of the China National Sword Policy, the collapse of SKM Recycling and the State Government’s 40 per cent increase in the solid waste levy in 2019,” said Pinnegar. “Local government has been working hard to address this instability and increase capacity in the waste sector, and at least two new local government recycling facilities in SA will come online this year. The local government sector is committed to achieving sustainable waste management in our State, and the community can help by continuing to recycle through their household yellow bins as normal. It is important that whatever temporary arrangements are needed, they do not detract from all of the progress that we have made towards achieving a stable and sustainable recycling sector for South Australia.”