Recycling industry call

A WELLINGTON Shire councillor believes the state government should take the lead in developing a recycling industry in Gippsland.

It comes as council voted for mayor Carolyn Crossley to write to state Environment Minister Lily D’Ambrosio regarding the recycling crisis affecting local councils across Victoria, including Wellington.

Paper, packaging and recycling company Visy has told several waste disposal companies it will cease accepting recyclable materials because of commercial difficulties caused by China’s ban on the importation of certain types of waste, including plastic, textiles and mixed paper.

The state government recently announced it would provide $13 million in total to councils affected by the crisis.

Cr Gayle Maher said while the government’s intervention was welcome, there was a “real possibility” of local kerb side recycling services ceasing.

“It is worth noting that, at this point in time however, we have not received any formal detail regarding the state’s intervention offer,” she said. 

“Given this, the problem has not yet been fully resolved, merely delayed until July 1 — at which point it would appear local councils will be forced to pass on the increased cost to their communities.”

The time is “right”, Cr Maher said, for the government to play “a much stronger lead role” in developing a local recycling industry.

“The funds collected through the EPA levy, valued at more than $500 million, should be allocated as a priority to driving local investment in the industry by building infrastructure, developing markets through increased competition and undertaking research and development activities,” she said.

“The Gippsland region is desperate for economic development that drives jobs growth, and this is the perfect opportunity to do so.”

Cr Maher also encouraged the government to reconsider the introduction of the proposed landfill ban of e-waste, scheduled for July 1.

“It’s my understanding that the structure of this ban is very similar to the recycling model that has just essentially failed, relying on immature and volatile markets where actual commodity values are unknown, leading to price fluctuations and potential additional costs to communities,” she said.

“It appears that the entire recycling approach is flawed, in that to date, all efforts have targeted the end of the process rather than the start.

“I suggest that greater emphasis be placed on product stewardship and tighter packaging regulation, thus avoiding the end of pipe approach that has failed, bringing with it direct additional costs to local communities.”