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WASTE + WATER MANAGEMENT AUSTRALIA JUNE/JULY 2018

V45.1

DEFENDING THE FUTURE OF HOUSEHOLD RECYCLING

ENVIRONMENT SUSTAINABILITY PUBLIC HEALTH SINCE 1973

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NWRIC CALLS ON STATE + LOCAL GOVERNMENT TO INVEST IN HOUSEHOLD RECYCLING AND FOR HOUSEHOLDERS TO ‘RECYCLE RIGHT’


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A MESSAGE FROM THE NWRIC

NOW IS THE TIME FOR STATES TO INVEST IN HOUSEHOLD RECYCLING 12

Waste + Water Management Australia | June/July 2018


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Support this call through your Local Government Association, or by directly lobbying your State or Federal parliamentarian. Industry and Local Government must stand together to defend household recycling.

T

he National Waste and Recycling Industry Council, in collaboration with the Australian Local Government Association is calling on State Governments to invest more levy revenue into household recycling services.

THE CHINESE CHALLENGE WE CANNOT KEEP EXPORTING WASTE

Industry and Local Government are now collecting more than $1 billion per year in landfill levies on behalf of State Governments. Australians do not want our waste materials sent overseas to be recycled. The Chinese recycling crisis provides an opportunity to re-invest levy revenue to protect and advance our recycling capacity.

The Chinese ‘National Sword’ program means only material with less than 0.5% contamination can be sold to China. The Chinese have imposed these restrictions in order to protect their local environment. The Commonwealth Department of the Environment estimates that 1.25 million tonnes of material is currently sent to China - of which 920,000 tonnes is paper, 125,000 tonnes is mixed plastics and the remainder is metals. In terms of geography, experts Blue Environment estimate that 50% percent of the affected tonnes are in Victoria, 19% are in NSW and 21% are in Queensland. Thus, 90% of the problem is in the eastern and southern States which have existing or new levy revenue available. The remaining 10% is in SA and WA. Less than 1% is in the NT, the ACT and Tasmania. This is not a short term problem. Industry expects these new restrictions to be permanent. As a result, Australia must develop domestic solutions to its recycling problems - we cannot give up on recycling. Coupled with the loss of markets, there has been an average drop in the commodity price of clean recycled products of $50-$90 per tonne or more. Despite this sudden shock, we have the capacity and capital to respond to this crisis.

STATES COLLECT HUGE REVENUE FROM LANDFILL LEVIES Australian States are now collecting more than $1 billion in landfill levies per year, and the NWRIC estimates the States hold in excess of $600 million in levy funds. Luckily, the state most heavily affected by the Chinese crisis is also the State holding the largest reserve of levy revenue. The Municipal Association of Victoria estimates the Sustainability Fund, created by landfill levies paid by Victorian households and businesses, was at $466 million at 30 June 2016. In South Australia more than $100 million is being held in the State’s Green Industry Fund. Levies are rising in South Australia, up by 20% by 2020 to over $100 per tonne for metro waste. In Western Australia, levies are up by 27% this year, to approximately $70 per tonne. Queensland is expected to introduce a landfill levy, likely to be has high as $70 per tonne, by the middle of 2019. At this value, the levy will raise more than $200 million per year. Some States - including NSW, Victoria and South Australia - have committed to short term rescue packages following the China crisis. But this is a long term change to the industry, so these short term rescue packages aren’t enough. We need long term, consistent return of levy revenue back to the recycling sector to create domestic jobs and capacity.

WE CAN SOLVE THIS PROBLEM AT HOME Industry and Government need to work together to reduce contamination in kerbside recycling systems. All household recyclables reaching material recovery facilities should have contamination levels of less than 5%. Current averages of between 10% and 20% - but with some

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TO DEVELOP SUSTAINABLE DOMESTIC RECYCLING, INDUSTRY IS CALLING FOR SUPPORT TO:

1 Call for States to spend levy revenue on new, high quality recycling education programs. Only States have the legal jurisdiction and funding to create Statewide education campaigns.

2 Create a national ‘Recycling

as much as 35% - are uncommercial and unsustainable. Then we need new technology and more labour in our material recovery facilities in order to sort materials down to the 0.5% contamination levels needed for local remanufacture or export. Irrespective of whether we export our recycling or remanufacture it domestically - materials produced by the Australian recycling industry now need to be clean. Local Governments have long supported household recycling through collection services, education campaigns

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Bank’ funded by levy revenue. This bank will give low or no interest loans to help businesses invest in new recycling infrastructure and also invest in research and technology to recover new resources.

3 Introduce new Product Stewardship Programs at State and Commonwealth levels to process problem waste such as lithium batteries, aerosol cans and nappies.

4 Encourage all purchasers to preference recycled products.

and advice to residents on how to minimise waste, upcycle goods and reuse materials, including through Local Government-supported arts projects. Further support can come by Councils actively procuring the recycled materials created in their region. Glass can be used as a high quality aggregate in pipe bedding and road construction. Mixed plastics can be turned into plastic lumber for public amenity projects, or be used in road surfacing. Governments at all levels can actively procure recycled paper. Local Government, industry is asking for your support. Another important aspect of reducing contamination in household recycling streams is to ensure that residences have access to product stewardship schemes which allow them to recycle problem products like e-waste, batteries, paint and other hazardous products. In order to create a regionally appropriate solution to this problem, industry is calling for a ‘recycling’ forum

in each State. One of these forums was recently held in Bundaberg, Queensland on April 26 and 27. At this forum, Stakeholders from State and Local Government, along with industry worked together to develop a consensus plan to respond to the export crisis. Agreed policy reforms from this forum addressed contracts, education, collection, procurement and regulation. Local Governments are encouraged to attend to these forums and make their voices heard. Keep an eye on Local Government newsletters for more details about upcoming workshops.


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CALLING ON HOUSEHOLDERS TO ‘RECYCLE RIGHT’ Our international trading partners have said they will not longer take dirty recycling. Now is the time to work with your Council and your recycling contractor to reduce contamination by adopting the following simple approach (see below). “Immediate action is required to respond to the current recycling crisis. Adoption of the ‘Recycle Right’ approach now and in the future, use of the new Australasian Recycling Label when it becomes available in coming months, will help get household recycling back on track,” said Max Spedding, CEO of the National Waste and Recycling Industry Council. This call from the NWRIC was joined by the Australian Council of Recycling (ACOR). “Contamination is a common challenge for all Councils and Shires,” said Pete Schmigel, CEO of the ACOR. “It is costly and it undermines the fundamental purpose of kerbside recycling.

“Technological improvement to address contamination levels is costly and takes time. This time is lacking to respond to the loss of Chinese markets. Education, on the other hand is immediately available and a solution for all players. We must work together to recycle right now.” One important new tool to help communities recycle right is the Australasian Recycling Label (ARL). This new packaging label is an evidence based system that provides households with easy to understand recycling information when they need it most - in those few seconds when they are deciding what bin the package goes in. The ARL labels packaging as ‘recyclable’, ‘conditionally recyclable’ or ‘not recyclable’. The companies who have already adopted the ARL include Woolworths, Officeworks, Blackmores and Australia Post.

RECYCLING WORKS BETTER WHEN WE RECYCLE RIGHT

IN THE YELLOW RECYCLING BIN:

NO PLASTIC BAGS, FOOD, GARDEN MATERIAL, TEXTILES, AEROSOLS OR BATTERIES. YES PLASTIC, STEEL, GLASS & ALUMINIUM CONTAINERS; PAPER & CARDBOARD IF IN DOUBT, THROW IT OUT INTO THE RED BIN.

Waste + Water Management Australia NWRIC Recycling Feature  

Defending the Future of Household Recycling

Waste + Water Management Australia NWRIC Recycling Feature  

Defending the Future of Household Recycling