Rates likely to increase due to recycling crisis

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[Photo 20180412 Rubbish Bins by Matthew Evans]

Ratepayers across the state may be forced to pay more in collection costs or rates generally to deal with the current recycling crisis in Victoria.

Bayside City Council has confirmed to DScribe that Bayside ratepayers may be expected to pay an extra to cope with the crisis when Council releases their budget. “It’s in the likelihood of being between $50-$60. It is quite a substantial amount to cover this crisis.” said Cr Laurence Evans said.

Cr Evans warns said that other councils in Victoria will be doing likewise, and has been campaigning for the state government to act.

The current crisis is caused by China prohibiting or limiting the importation of sorted plastic, which companies convert for other purposes, such as creating park and outdoor furniture.

These materials had been exported to China after being sorted by waste management companies, such as Visy, after they receive the waste from collection companies who are contracted by local councils. China’s move has effectively left stockpiles of waste sitting in Australia, with most being put into landfill.

Shadow Minister for the Environment, Nick Wakeling MP, says ratepayers may have to pay more as of July 1 when local governments alter their budgets to cope with the issue, as pressure mounts on the State Government to urgently address the current recycling crisis.

Mr Wakeling said that there will be serious consequences of insufficient action. “One of two things is going to happen,” Mr Wakeling said. “There’s going to be a lack of collection and Victorians are going to be impacted, or (which is more the case) people’s bins are going to be collected and people will be paying significantly more.”

[Photo | Bayside Council Lord Mayor Laurence Evans (Photo from Bayside City Council)]
“The sector asked the government to play a role in helping this, but the government had done nothing.” Mr Wakeling said. “It’s up to the government to demonstrate what they are proposing to do in terms of trying to provide long term relief.”

Despite this, both Cr Evans and Mr Wakeling say that the State Government have known about the issue about the matter for some time. “China had flagged in July last year that they were looking at putting up to either stop or dramatically reduce the level of imported plastics, so the Victorian community was aware of this” said Mr Wakeling.

“People knew this was coming. It wasn’t a big surprise,” Cr Evans added.

The Victorian State Government is under growing pressure to tackle the current recycling crisis which is affecting most Victorian councils.

In early March this year, Macedon Ranges Shire Council and Mount Alexander Shire Council were told by their waste collector that they would no longer collect rubbish. According to The Age, ‘On the eve of China’s ban, large recycler Visy announced it would stop accepting material from Wheelie Waste, leaving the contractor with nowhere to take the rubbish.’

In a statement to DScribe News, the Minister for Local Government, Marlene Kairouz MP, said, “Recycling is a matter for recyclers and local councils – but we’ve already stepped in with a $13m package to help those affected by China’s new import rules.”

The government has also announced that a “recycling industry taskforce to develop a strategic plan for industry transition” has been established, along with providing $13 million from the Sustainability Fund, which still has $500 million unspent. 

A statement provided to DScribe News from the Minister for Local Government

Cr Evans says that this is just “a band aid.” “$13 million throughout our councils is just not enough.” Cr Evans said.

Cr Evans and Mr Wakeling agreed that a viable idea is that governments need to encourage private enterprise to create products out of repurposed recyclables, so that they do not have to be exported overseas.

“We have got to invest locally rather than in China…” the Mayor said. “We must come up with innovative ways to deal with this matter in Victoria.”

Mr Wakeling said that the Opposition will be making announcements into the future, as this issue is set to become a serious issue for the upcoming Victorian state election.

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