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Adjournment: Waste and Recycling Management

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Sam Hibbins MP
Member for Prahran
7 March 2019

Mr HIBBINS (Prahran) : My adjournment matter is for the Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change, and the action I seek is for the minister to fix the recycling crisis and do it using the $500 million that is sitting in the Sustainability Fund for this very purpose. In the Prahran electorate residents are doing the right thing but their recycling is being sent to landfill. In the City of Port Phillip residents have sent around 400 tonnes of recyclables to landfill. Stonnington has also been affected; their recycling is going to landfill. It is absolutely unacceptable. The government has seen this crisis coming with the ban on low-quality recyclables going to China and the build-up of dangerous material across Melbourne. It is not good enough for the government to keep blaming China, local governments and private companies without taking responsibility. This is a crisis, but it is also an incredible opportunity to do what the government should have been doing already—that is, create a recycling industry here in Victoria with jobs along the way, implement the ban on plastic bags they promised to do two years ago I think, going further and banning unnecessary plastic packaging, introduce a container deposit scheme which we know has widespread support across the community and introduce—and this is one of my favourites—kerbside organic recycling, which is really important particularly for people living in apartments. The Greens motion for a parliamentary inquiry into the waste crisis succeeded in the other place, so that inquiry will be up. I am sure there are a lot of councils, individuals and organisations that will be very keen to submit to that inquiry to look at solutions. In fact just before this speech I saw that the Municipal Association of Victoria has put out their 'Rescue our recycling: proposed action plan’, with actions for the Victorian government, local government and even the federal government. As part of their actions for the Victorian government they have got 'Invest in recycling infrastructure’, 'Fund and support market development’, 'Introduce a container deposit scheme’, 'Bolster community education’ and 'Strengthen industry oversight board/regulation’. These are terrific ideas, and I would certainly encourage the government to take up these actions now to fix this crisis. I encourage organisations, people and councils who are interested in this, or passionate about this, to submit to the inquiry.

Answer

The Andrews Labor Government is committed to a resilient and effective recycling industry and will continue to work in partnership with councils, industry and the community to help achieve this goal.  

We're building a strong policy and legislative foundation for new initiatives, supported through record funding of more than $100 million over the last four years in the waste and resource recovery sector. This includes $37 million to deliver the Recycling Industry Strategic Plan.

The safety of the Victorian community is our highest priority and we make no apology for that. Compliance action taken by the Environment Protection Authority against SKM Recycling is necessary to protect our community from the risk of fires.

SKM Recycling has re-gained compliance at both Laverton North and Coolaroo, and recycling has resumed for councils who send material to these locations. SKM Recycling has also re-opened their Geelong facility.

Primary responsibility for this problem rests with SKM and local councils, our network of Waste and Resource Recovery Groups is continuing to support effected councils.

Broader work is underway to help achieve the Victorian Government's goals for a waste and resource recovery system that minimises waste generation, maximises resource recovery and works towards sending zero waste to landfill.

Including the Victorian ban on lightweight plastic shopping bags which will come into effect by the end of 2019, development of the circular economy policy and we continue to monitor the experience of other jurisdictions as they introduce container deposit schemes to understand the implications for Victoria.

The investment provided by the Andrews Labor Government will further support the growth of the recycling industry in Victoria by diverting more recoverable materials from landfill, create jobs and increase the recovery of valuable resources.

Full implementation of the strategic plan will take time, but it is about putting the whole sector on a strong footing, so it can support jobs and improve our environment for the long-term.

Hon Lily D'Ambrosio MP

Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change

Minister for Solar Homes

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Sam Hibbins MP
Member for Prahran
7 March 2019
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