Local Government NSW has welcomed the $47 million recycling rescue package announced by the NSW Government, despite disappointment the money is simply being diverted from funds already aimed at better managing waste throughout the state.
NSW Local Government and Environment Minister Gabrielle Upton unveiled the rescue package after China moved to more strictly enforce rules on the acceptance on foreign waste, threatening the current collection of kerbside recycling for many councils.
LGNSW President Linda Scott told a Senate Inquiry into waste and recycling there was an immediate need for financial assistance and the fast-tracking of approvals for onshore reprocessing and remanufacturing.
“One of my key messages to the Inquiry was the need to ensure more of the hundreds of millions of dollars in waste levies collected from the community each year are reinvested to support recycling,” Cr Scott said.
“The NSW Government collected $659 million in waste levies in 2016/17, yet only 18% of the waste levies paid by local government were returned to local government.
“In my last letter to Minister Upton, I specifically called for financial assistance to be drawn from those funds collected via the waste levy that currently goes into consolidated revenue.
“So while we commend the NSW Government for responding to our calls to step up to help avert a recycling crisis, it’s incredibly disappointing that it has chosen to simply divert money from the Waste Less Recycle More initiative.
“It’s even more disappointing when you look at the record NSW surplus, and the Government’s decision to spend billions of dollars on sporting stadiums in Sydney.”
The one-off funding package is designed to:
- Enable councils to offset some of the costs associated with kerbside recycling collections
- Improve tendering processes to increase the production and use of recycled product
- Fund community education initiatives to reduce kerbside recycling contamination levels
It also includes $9.5 million for industry and local government to co-invest in infrastructure projects, to identify new uses for recyclable materials, to improve the quality of recycled products, and reduce the amount of unrecyclable material left at the end of the process.
Cr Scott said the majority of the package followed LGNSW’s strong advocacy on the immediate steps that could be taken to prevent a recycling crisis.
“I would also commend the Government’s acceptance of LGNSW’s arguments that recycling facilities need to be able to apply to the Environment Protection Authority (EPA) to temporarily vary their stockpile limits until long-term solutions are in place,” she said
“The Government has certainly listened to LGNSW on what needs to be done – it’s just unfortunate that it has failed to appropriately fund these proposals from the majority of the waste levy funds that are currently diverted into consolidated revenue.”