Energy efficient business need to be rewarded

Tuesday, 08 July, 2008

Speaking before the Senate Inquiry into the Management of Australia's Waste Streams, SITA Environmental Solutions’ Mike Ritchie said that leaving energy efficiency out of an Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) would be neglecting one of the key drivers that will make the scheme work.

"A manufacturer or retailer that recycles aluminium will sell that aluminium to a smelter. The smelter gets the benefits of the reduced emissions and reduced permits but the business gets no direct recognition for its recycling effort,” said Ritchie, SITA’s national general manager, marketing and communications and also NSW president of the Waste Management Association of Australia.

On the eve of the release of the draft Garnaut Review report Mr Ritchie said: “ETS needs to directly recognise and encourage that effort through some form of energy efficiency credit.

"You can multiply this situation thousands of times throughout the economy.

"I can see that the government wants to avoid double counting but the emissions trading scheme cannot ignore the vital contribution that energy efficiency through recycling will make to its success."

Ritchie also called on the federal government to revive a national waste strategy.

"We haven't had a national waste strategy for 18 years and we badly need one," Richie said.

Ritchie said that a coherent waste policy needed to link the issues of climate change, waste targets, Extended Producer Responsibility and planning and infrastructure.

The focus needed to be the 15 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions that the waste sector contributes to Australia’s emissions profile and on organic waste — the biggest contributor as organic waste to landfill.

The solutions lay in:

  • improved landfill gas capture on existing landfills
  • reducing organic waste disposal to landfill
  • significant improvements in Australia’s recycling rates.

Ritchie said that a national approach would help the industry make savings of up to 35 million tonnes of CO2 emissions a year — around 7% of Australia's total carbon emissions equal to taking all cars off Australian roads.

This would require an investment of around $4 billion in new technology — mainly Alternative Waste Treatment Facilities — which the waste management industry is ready to make, with the right regulatory framework in place.


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