THE state government has announced a Recycling Industry Reform package of $34.9 million to further strengthen the waste and recycling sector.
The package came in the same week the Victorian Auditor-General handed down a highly critical audit of the state’s agencies responsible for managing the sector, saying they were “not responding strategically to waste and resource recovery issues”.
Under the package, the government has established a $14.3 million Recycling Industry Development Fund to ensure the industry will have the capacity to recycle locally generated waste products into high value commodities in Victoria.
A further $13.8 million program will provide incentives for new entrants to the Victorian recycling market, diversifying the sector and leading to more investment in equipment and infrastructure upgrades.
The package will provide support to Victorian councils when it comes to negotiating new contracts for recycling services, and education programs will be expanded to improve understanding of what can and can’t be recycled.
The Essential Services Commission will review recycling services in Victoria to look at whether the sector should be regulated as an essential service.
“Managing recycling and waste is a global problem and we need to act now to help the industry continue its transition following China’s import bans,” Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change Lily D’Ambrosio said.
“It’s more important than ever to minimise the amount of waste we produce and ensure we’re recycling as many items as possible – and these new initiatives are an important step in planning for the future of the waste and recycling industry.”
The Auditor-General’s report on the audit states the responsible agencies were not minimising Victoria’s need for landfill nor maximising the recovery and reprocessing of waste resources.
“A significant amount of the waste that Victorians send to landfill could be recycled or reprocessed, and some recyclables that Victorians segregate for recycling eventually end up in landfills.
“The lack of an overarching statewide policy deprives responsible government agencies and their stakeholders of a clear and definitive direction for waste management, which means that government agencies’ responses to waste issues have been ad hoc and reactive.
“DELWP advise that it is developing a policy – which will be in line with circular economy principles – however, it is not due until 2020.”