As the state government hands out $13 million dollars to local councils to ensure continuation of roadside recycling collections, other waste management groups in the area are working on long-term solutions.
The ‘recycling crisis’ facing the country was sparking by an announcement that China would stop accepting waste and recycling products from Australia at the beginning of the year.
La Vergne Lehmann, executive officer of the Grampians and Central West waste and resource recovery group said they are unsure how the money will be allocated but her group are looking further into the future.
“The package is for the last four months of this financial year and we don’t know how that funding will be allocated but we understand there will be some form of compensation for LGAs who have had to wear increases prices for collection and processing,” she said.
“Our role in all of this for the last few weeks and looking forward is to consult between local and state governments.
“As we start looking forward and at a re-set of the whole recycling industry, we will be looking at working with governments helping them with contracts and we will be looking at infrastructure working with local government stakeholders to identify opportunities.”
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Ms Lehmann said changes to the way local and state governments manage waste and recycling could be a chance for local recycling processors to grow and develop their businesses.
However, while the future of recycling processing in Australia is unclear, all options and ideas are welcome to find a solution that works for communities, businesses and governments.
While it is generally accepted there will be some cost increases into the future, we see this as an opportunity for economic development in the regions.La Vergne Lehman
“Without a doubt we wouldn’t want to limit any discussions at the moment and we are certainly in a position where we want to talk to and listen to everybody and look at where we can best take the recycling situation at the moment.”
The Grampians and Central West waste and resource recovery group are pushing for better education around recycling practices as well as taking stock of our local recycling infrastructure and how it can be improved.
Ms Lehmann claimed sending our rubbish and recycling overseas to be sorted and processed was not a sustainable way of dealing with our waste.
“I don’t think anyone thinks shipping our waste overseas was a great idea; we want to develop industries in our country, high quality industry that can do well into the future,” she said.
However, the Municipal Association of Victoria (MAV) said there is no way to avoid increased costs to recycling services as new ideas and innovations are put forward.
Rob Spence, MAV CEO said he expected the State’s funding would cover part of the increased costs being imposed on councils by the recycling industry until 30 June.
“We are pleased the Victorian Government has stepped in with short-term assistance to help ensure recycling can continue to be picked up from households,” Mr Spence said.
“This will assist councils to avoid withdrawing funds from other essential community services to pay the increased recycling fees.
“However beyond 30 June, affected councils will need to pass on the new costs imposed by the recycling industry to residents through the waste management charge that appears on rates notices or through the rate for those councils without a waste charge.”
While an extra charge for recycling services is on the cards, Ms Lehmann said councils have a chance to better manage their processes to support solutions to reduce potential costs.
“Next week at our regular local government forum we will have speakers coming in to talk about reusing materialsin things like road bases,” she said.
“We want to work toward skilling councils to look at materials we can reuse in those kinds of opportunities rather than using virgin materials.
“There many ways to do this and this is a great opportunity to completely change a system that was not working thew way it should have been.”