In Parliament

Adjournment - Waste and Recycling Management


Thursday, 21 March 2019.

Mr NEWBURY (Brighton) (17:11):

My adjournment matter this afternoon is for the Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change, and the action I seek is for the Minister to provide a written update to me on what concrete plans the state government has to deal with Victoria’s recycling future.

As you know, there has been a recycling crisis gripping Victoria. The clock started ticking when China decided that it would no longer accept our recyclable waste. Despite the increasing urgency, we did little at a state level to develop infrastructure and prepare us for the inevitable crunch. That crunch hit in February.

In February the stockpiles of recyclable material became dire. As a result the government authority charged with environment protection ordered that recyclable stock be thrown into general landfill.

Victorians are champions of sustainability. That is why it is a national disgrace that the state government  has  sat  on  its  hands  and  done  little  to  develop  infrastructure  that  could  support  the sustainability of recyclables.

As at 12 March, I am advised, Port Phillip council had diverted almost 658 tonnes of recyclables to landfill at a cost of $79000. Elwood, which falls into Port Phillip council, is part of my electorate. Elwood  residents  are  incredibly  concerned  about  the  environment  and  are  leaders  in  sustainability matters.

The remainder of my electorate falls into Bayside council. Although they are not affected, I understand that Bayside currently collects, on average, 210tonnes of recyclables per week. With the landfill levy at $64.30per tonne, a similar diversion would cost Bayside approximately $13500per week. In addition to the landfill levy, fees of $18000per week would also be payable by Bayside to dispose of recyclables to landfill.

Residents across my electorate are overwhelmingly frustrated by the recycling crisis. They want to know  how  we  as  a  state  will  get  ourselves  out  of  this  mess.  I am yet to hear a whimper from the government that sounds even remotely like a solution.

Residents in my community want to know that their policymakers value sustainability. Residents constantly ask me what the government is doing to invest in waste-to-energy technologies.

They  have  also  asked  me  repeatedly  why  the  Premier  has trialled  initiatives  in  other policy  areas but  does  not support trialling  environmental  policies, like a container deposit scheme, that would help sustain our environment.

These are valid questions from my constituents.

Some  $500million  has  been  paid  by Victorian households and businesses  as  a  bin  tax  to  increase recycling and reduce waste to landfill, money that just sits in the government’s bank account.

It is time to do something. It is time to move forward and plan for a sustainable future. I look forward to the minister’s response.