Waste Levy audit confirms local government’s call for change

Last week’s NSW Auditor-General report on how the NSW Government uses the $800 million it collects annually through its Waste Levy confirms what Local Government NSW (LGNSW) and councils have been saying for years – that an overhaul of the State’s waste management system is urgently needed.

LGNSW President Linda Scott said the report revealed about only a third of the revenue raised through the levy was spent on waste and environmental programs and that there continued to be an absence of a State strategy around waste and recycling management.

“In the absence of a formal State Government strategy and funding to save our recycling, NSW risks missing out on opportunities to create a clean, green circular economy in NSW and we risk seeing new employment opportunities lost to other Australian states and territories,” Cr Scott said.

“As hundreds of millions of dollars are collected by the NSW Government each year, councils and communities cannot continue to underwrite the increasing costs associated with our growing recycling crisis, including increased stockpiles of recyclable waste.”

Cr Scott said LGNSW and councils appreciated the Waste Levy’s role in sending a price signal to reduce waste going into landfill, but the funding raised must be directed back for the purpose for which it was collected – recycling and waste avoidance.

“Local governments are leading the way to develop sustainable waste and recycling systems with industry and educating their communities about responsible waste and recycling practices,” she said.

“The Auditor General’s report has revealed hundreds of millions of dollars in potential funding to develop regional waste plans and build new clean, green infrastructure and create local jobs.

“With looming waste export bans kicking in from January, the NSW Government must act, and must involve councils, which are at the forefront of dealing with waste and recycled materials.”

The NSW Auditor-General Waste Levy report found the EPA needed to review Waste Levy rules, improve reporting procedures on environmental outcomes from levy funds and, critically, determine NSW’s waste infrastructure needs to inform planning and funding for waste infrastructure across the State.

Cr Scott said LGNSW’s Save Our Recycling campaign included a comprehensive plan for dealing with waste that would not only support the environment, but also boost local economies and create jobs through a circular economy.

“Councils are already leading the way with many local initiatives, but they can’t do it alone,” she said.

“LGNSW is calling on the State Government to put recycling to the front of the agenda by dedicating much needed funding for local government to develop waste management planning, education and infrastructure.

“That, along with a commitment of increased local and State Government procurement of recycled goods made with domestic content, would revolutionise waste and recycling and address what is becoming an increasingly pressing and expensive issue for councils and their communities.

“We call on Minster Kean and the NSW Government to invest in our environment and invest in NSW jobs by reinvesting the NSW Waste Levy into local governments.”

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