NSW councils finally have a way forward dealing with the growing waste crisis with this week’s release of the State Government’s long-awaited 20-year waste strategy.
Local Government NSW (LGNSW) President Linda Scott said she was pleased the NSW Government had listened to local government in developing its Waste and Sustainable Material Strategy and accompanying NSW Plastics Plan.
She said the plan recognised LGNSW’s call that dealing with the waste problem was also an opportunity to create brand new jobs in the sector and drive the transition to a circular economy.
“LGNSW has been calling on the Government for a number of years now through our Save Our Recycling action plan to address the growing crisis of waste and recycling in NSW, to go beyond seeing it as a problem but to embrace the opportunity to create a vibrant, job-creating sector,” Cr Scott said.
“Our call includes Government working with councils, that are on the frontline of dealing with waste and recycling, to develop regional waste plans and reinvestment of the $800 million Waste Levy it collects annually into infrastructure.
“I am pleased that the Government has taken some of our key recommendations on board, such as developing a 10-year infrastructure plan to promote investment in strategic waste infrastructure and jobs growth.
“I also welcome the proposed program to tackle food and green organic waste (FOGO) to meet the national target to halve organic waste sent to landfill by 2030.
“We are pleased to see this move is being phased in over time, which will help smooth the financial impact of any changes to the bin system.
“LGNSW also called for a focus on government procurement decisions with an emphasis on recycled material to drive a circular economy, which is reflected in today’s Government plan.”
Cr Scott said the Government’s Plastics Plan will finally bring NSW into line with other States that have already banned single use plastics.
However, the plan falls short in a number of areas.
“According to a NSW Parliamentary Inquiry in 2018, about 13 per cent of the Waste Levy revenue was reinvested in waste and regulatory programs, while a further 13 per cent went to environmental programs,” Cr Scott said.
“There is still so much more than could be done, both to reduce waste and create jobs, if the full $800 million collected by the Waste Levy each year was targeted towards the purpose it is raised for.”
However, she said overall the Government’s new waste strategy was a crucial step forward, as it sets the direction for all stakeholders and helps councils tackle critical waste and recycling issues.
“We look forward to working with the NSW Government in partnership to implement the actions under the strategy to ensure the best outcomes for the community.”