EfW inquiry: NSW govt's response "disappointing", says WMAA

Waste Management and Resource Recovery Association of Aust

Tuesday, 23 October, 2018

EfW inquiry: NSW govt's response "disappointing", says WMAA

The Waste Management Association of Australia (WMAA) has written to the New South Wales Legislative Council, voicing its disappointment with the response from NSW Environment Minister Gabrielle Upton to recommendations from the Energy from Waste (EfW) Technology Parliamentary Inquiry.

The Parliamentary Inquiry was established on 6 April 2017 to inquire into and report on matters relating to the waste disposal industry in NSW, with particular reference to EfW technology. Following five hearings and close to 400 submissions, the Planning and Environment Portfolio published a report in March 2018 comprising an extensive list of recommendations.

WMAA considers the inquiry an important step in providing clarity around the role of EfW in a sustainable waste and resource recovery industry. But instead of building on the momentum created by the inquiry, the association believes Upton’s response, which was tabled in parliament on 28 September 2018, offers little that is constructive.

“The NSW Government’s response was disappointing,” said WMAA CEO Gayle Sloan. “Minister Upton simply acknowledged the committee’s recommendations or referenced the government’s Waste Less Recycle More initiative without detailing how the latter supports, justifies or defies the recommendations.

“The Minister’s approach is extremely concerning and it is the latest display of an inability to provide leadership or make decisions. This incapacity has resulted in significant delays, consultations with no real outcomes, and has added to industry’s frustration.”

To ensure that the EfW discussion does not stagnate or lose steam, WMAA has prepared a comprehensive response which it is urging the committee to review and take into consideration. Some of WMAA’s recommendations are:

  • Greater and more flexible funding from the NSW levy being returned to industry to incentivise landfill diversion.
  • Completion of the stalled Waste and Resource Recovery Infrastructure Strategy to provide certainty to community, industry and investors.
  • The creation of a market development agency, similar to Sustainability Victoria and Green Industries South Australia, independent of the EPA.
  • An investigation of the viability of providing the EPA with greater powers to manage illegal and unlawful operators.
  • The development of a specific Waste and Resource Recovery State and Environmental Planning Policy (SEPP).

With the NSW and Australian waste industries both at a crossroads, the WMAA says China’s National Sword policy has shone light on the opportunity to increase and improve domestic processing, which will in turn create jobs and boost the economy. And while EfW is only one of a range of waste management options, the association claims the NSW Government’s response to what is a comprehensive piece of work has been decidedly lacklustre.

“The NSW Government needs to decide if it will follow in the footsteps of its counterparts — Queensland, WA, Victoria and SA — that have continued to invest and innovate with industry to create more jobs and greater investment, or if it will continue to procrastinate and avoid making decisions, failing to provide leadership at a time when NSW most needs it,” Sloan said.

Image credit: ©stock.adobe.com/au/sebra

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