VWMA urges recycling despite state recycling crisis
The Victorian Waste Management Association (VWMA) has issued a statement urging Victorians to keep recycling, despite interruption to the state’s waste and recycling network following SKM Recycling’s shutdown. The major recycling company announced last week that it would no longer collect recycling from dozens of Victorian councils following its shutdown by the Environment Protection Authority, after several fires at its Melbourne sites.
VWMA stated that the sector supports the waste and recycling infrastructure build that is currently underway in Victoria, requiring the movement of demolition material and contaminated soils/materials, and management of hazardous waste and toxic materials generated from Victorian industries or clinical wastes. As the system transitions, materials traditionally destined for recycling will be sent to landfill, but VWMA has assured Victorians that this is a temporary situation. The association iterated that recycling is the right thing to do, and should be continued regardless of the temporary interruption to Victoria’s waste and recycling network.
Current procurement practices encourage volume waste processing by large operators, which has traditionally been a lower-cost option. The VWMA pointed to events of the last 18–20 months as demonstrating the risks to the waste and recycling network when low-cost options are implemented.
The association has emphasised that to successfully manage future waste needs, appropriate investment must be made in people, systems, processes, education and engagement to drive sustainable change, with the private sector partnering with local and state government.
The VWMA has strongly recommended that government procurement and tendering address the ongoing issues and challenges faced by the waste and recycling sector.
VWMA Executive Officer Mark Smith said, “Everyone generates waste, and waste management is everyone’s responsibility and so is recycling.
“Temporary interruptions which impact some Victorians shouldn’t discourage people doing the right thing and disposing of their waste in the right bin,” he said.
“The average Australian is generating something like 2.7 tonnes of waste a year — equivalent to the weight of a Toyota HiAce. By global standards that’s high and is not sustainable. People can support the current challenges we are having by reviewing their own habits and behaviours, including buying things made locally from recycling material.
“We may need to accept that this temporary interruption that could last a few weeks as our waste and recycling system adjusts and adapts to this most recent challenge,” he continued.
“The private sector supports 23,000 Victorian jobs and invests over $800 million into waste and recycling services and infrastructure annually. We have the potential to create sustainable solutions out of this current crisis. I hope we capitalise on it.”
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