Greens spokesperson for waste and recycling, Senator Peter Whish-Wilson, provides the following comments on the successful move by the Greens to establish a Senate Inquiry into the future of the recycling industry following the exposé on Four Corners.
Senator Whish-Wilson said, “I have been pursuing these issues in the recycling industry for years but the recent Four Corners episode has really brought the crisis out into the open.
“I pushed to establish this Inquiry to see into how we can put the recycling industry back on a sustainable footing. Environmentalists recognise that we need a strong and vibrant recycling industry to win the war on plastic pollution.
“Before renewable energy came along, recycling was the first true green industry and we have to make sure the sector grows and is healthy.
“Of course, we need to highlight the bad operators, and this Inquiry will help with that, but we also need to identify what can to be done to keep the good operators going.
“With the collapse of commodity prices, we are seeing waste streams build up in paddocks and warehouses and this is totally unacceptable. We need to investigate what we can to stop this from happening.
“I am concerned the Federal Government has been missing-in-action. They have stalled on a National Waste Policy, abolished the COAG Standing Council on Environment and Water, and have not issued a National Waste Report in four years.
“I am hoping that the Committee will look closely at what the Federal Government should be doing to deal with the crisis in the industry,” he concluded.
Terms of Reference:
Chair of the Environment and Communications References Committee
To move —That the following matter be referred to the Environment and Communications References Committee for inquiry and report by 29 November 2017:
The waste and recycling industry in Australia, with particular reference to:
(a) the quantity of solid waste generated and the rate of diversion of solid waste for recycling;
(b) the accreditation and management of landfills;
(c) the extent of illegal landfilling;
(d) the role of landfill levies in determining the end destination of material, including the hypothecation of collected levies for enforcement and waste diversion purposes;
(e) the role of different incentives and collection methods in determining the quality and quantity of material collected for recycling;
(f) the destination of material collected for recycling, including the extent of material reprocessing and the stockpiling of collected material;
(g) the current economic conditions in the industry, including the market for material collected for recycling;
(h) the transportation of solid waste across state boundaries;
(i) the role of the Australian Government in providing a coherent, efficient and environmentally responsible approach to solid waste management, including by facilitating a federal approach;
(j) and any other related matters.