WSROC calls for urgent state action on waste
The Western Sydney Regional Organisation of Councils (WSROC) has welcomed the NSW Government’s move to develop a 20-year waste strategy, noting that state action on waste is well overdue.
Western Sydney has seen unprecedented regional growth in recent years, yet councils in the area are not seeing waste management infrastructure put in place to accommodate the increase.
WSROC President Councillor Barry Calvert said, “Waste collection may be delivered locally, but waste processing, distribution and commodity markets are determined at the state, national and international levels.
“Councils cannot do this alone. The current crisis facing the waste sector is placing unprecedented strain on council resources as they strive to adapt to international commodity markets.”
The NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) is developing the 20-year Waste Strategy to reduce waste, drive sustainable recycling markets, and identify and improve the state and regional waste infrastructure network.
Working closely with stakeholders including local government, industry, experts and the broader community, the authority is striving for a robust, evidence-based waste plan, with the strategy targeted for completion at the end of 2019.
“WSROC welcomes the Energy and Environment Minister Matt Kean’s assessment of waste as an essential public service,” said Calvert. “The failure to classify waste as critical infrastructure — of equal importance to water, energy and transport — has delayed crucial action to this point. As a result, NSW and Australia have not adequately planned for waste and recycling and have become over-reliant on international waste processing — an option which is no longer viable.”
Calvert said that a 1.4 million tonne shortfall in waste processing capacity was expected by 2021 due to population growth and the China recycling ban, commenting that around 16 new waste facilities would be needed to close the gap in waste services.
“The NSW Government has an important role to play in strategic planning for waste infrastructure, guiding industry, supporting local governments and enlisting federal government support,” Calvert said.
“All levels of government must be involved in generating a long-term strategic plan for local, sustainable waste management.
“Of the $255 million waste levy funds collected by the NSW Government from Greater Western Sydney councils in the last five years, a paltry $20 million (8%) has been returned. This is an unjustifiable shortfall and it must be addressed,” Calvert stated.
WSROC has urged the NSW Government to:
- reinvest a greater portion of waste levy funds in planning and building waste infrastructure, including support for new recycling markets and technologies;
- identify and preserve suitable land for locations of waste infrastructure;
- invest in and evaluate emerging technological solutions;
- provide strategic management of asbestos across all levels of government;
- assemble a multijurisdictional task force to drive immediate action.
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