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The state of origin of waste NSW vs Qld Mike Ritchie, Director, MRA Consulting Group

Vo l u n t a r y a c t i o n by eve r y individual helps to grow recycling rates. Whether it’s an extra milk bottle in the recycling bin or installing a home composting system, it all contributes. Australia leads the world in household recycling rates.

I

n the business sector, most

businesses limit their recycling to cardboard,

of the economically viable

plastic and metal, which are revenue raisers

streams are already being

or at least cost neutral.

recycled. Cardboard, paper,

There is now enough data to show that

metals and plastic streams

when landfill prices rise (notably via levies

have sufficient commodity

but not exclusively), there is an increase in

value to justify collection and reprocessing.

resource recovery rates. Higher landfill prices

But for many waste streams, the inherent

provide the economic impetus for waste ser-

commodity value is just too low to justify the

vice providers (WSPs) to invest in resource

costs of recovery. In these cases, the price

recovery equipment, for governments to initiate

differential to landfill is the key driver of pri-

infrastructure grants and consumer education

vate sector investment and council decisions

programs, and for businesses to prioritise

to increase resource recovery.

recycling over landfill.

Landfill price and levies

Australia and the ACT all have landfill levies

As a country of 23 million people, we produce

($133, $58, $57, $55 and estimated $60/t

over 53 million tonnes of waste annually. 52%

respectively for metro putrescible waste) and

is recycled. Most state governments aspire to

grants schemes supported by the levies (to

do better and achieve 80% recovery or higher.

varying degrees). All are growing their recy-

Governments really only have three levers

cling rates and have generally set ambitious

for waste reform: regulatory (eg, enforcement,

targets for recycling of 70–80% by 2020 or

bans, producer responsibility, etc), pricing (eg,

thereabouts.

NSW, Victoria, South Australia, Western

16 Sustainability Matters - Feb/Mar 2016

levies and grants) and education. However,

Tasmania has a voluntary levy of $2.50 and

education’s effectiveness is limited when it

is now considering a state-based levy of $10/t.

runs counter to market price signals.

The ACT has a levy imbedded (in the Mugga

Not many companies will recycle when it

Lane landfill gate fee) of an estimated $60/t.

is cheaper to landfill, no matter how much

Only Queensland and the Northern Territory

we try to ‘educate’ them. That is why most

have no levy (the Northern Territory only has

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Sustainability Matters Feb/Mar 2016  

Sustainability Matters is a bi-monthly magazine showcasing the latest products, technology and sustainable solutions for industry, governmen...

Sustainability Matters Feb/Mar 2016  

Sustainability Matters is a bi-monthly magazine showcasing the latest products, technology and sustainable solutions for industry, governmen...