The Commonwealth and State governments need to step up to cut waste and save recycling if Australia is to have any hope of addressing the ever-growing amount of waste being generated, the peak body for NSW councils said today.
Local Government NSW (LGNSW) President Linda Scott, speaking on the eve of the National 2020 Plastics Summit in Canberra, said State and Federal Governments could not continue to ask the Australian community to fund the increasing cost of recycling or landfilling poorly-designed plastic packaging and products.
“Australians need more action from State and Federal governments to reduce waste and its costs to communities, and to create a more sustainable future,” Cr Scott said.
“Councils and communities are passionate about doing their bit, but they’re at the end of the waste supply chain and local government kerbside recycling programs are only a small part of the solution.
“The Commonwealth Government must stop producers from covering products in plastic by introducing strong product stewardship laws.
“The NSW Government must act to ban single-use plastic bags and reinvest the NSW Waste Levy – nearly $800 million in one year – into funding councils to save recycling.
“Many other state and territory jurisdictions have policies and strategies to phase out single use plastics such as plastic bags, straws and cutlery.
“Meanwhile, NSW is the only state to not have banned single-use plastic bags
“Communities and councils are still waiting on the long-promised NSW 20-year state waste strategy and the NSW Plastics Plan, and it’s not good enough.
“Local councils are working together for a more sustainable future, but we cannot do this alone.
“State and Federal governments are invited to partner with NSW councils to develop regional and region-specific solutions for the ‘circular economy’.
“Export bans on waste material are quickly approaching and stockpiles of recycled resources are growing in NSW. The time for action is now.
“We know a better future for our recycling is possible.
“Councils throughout NSW are using soft and hard plastics, including toner cartridges, in civil construction.
“North-western NSW councils are sending kerbside plastics to be made into star pickets locally.
“The Southern Sydney Regional Organisation of Councils has established partnerships to develop and trial practical uses for recycled products locally, including asphalt containing crushed recycled glass as an alternative road making material, with the next phase investigating applications for other recycled materials such as plastic and tyre crumb.
“More needs to be done to support a circular economy in NSW.
“It’s time the Commonwealth and state governments mandated their own procurement of recycled goods and services, boosting on the use of recycled materials for public projects,” Cr Scott said.
LGNSW, with the support of NSW councils, is calling on the NSW Government to Save Our Recycling by reinvesting the annual $800 million NSW Waste Levy to:
- allow councils to develop regional waste plans and deliver priority infrastructure;
- increase procurement of recycled goods made with domestic content;
- deliver state-wide education campaigns to promote waste avoidance and recycling; and
- introduce producer responsibility schemes for problematic materials.
Cr Scott said this four-point plan was also designed to ensure recycling that would have previously been shipped offshore could be dealt with at home, creating jobs and boosting local economies.
“We firmly believe waste should be considered a product, not a problem,” she said.