Greens waste and recyling spokesperson, Senator Peter Whish-Wilson provides the following comments on the evidence heard at the Senate waste and recycling Inquiry held in Sydney today.
[NB: Short audios for key witness statements can be found below.]
Senator Whish-Wilson said, “It is official now. Australia is in a nationwide recycling and waste crisis. A system of kerbside recycling that has been in place for decades is collapsing. "
“The crisis was limited to Victoria over the last month with contracts failing and councils having to go elsewhere to get their recycling collected but today we have heard clear evidence that this is also going on in NSW.
"Today I heard from industry groups, local government and big businesses about how the decision by China to stop the importation of low-grade waste plastic has undermined the entire economic sustainability of the recycling system.
"Without being able to on-sell the waste, companies are walking away from their waste collection contracts and recycling is being stockpiled without a plan for what to do with it.
“Everyone is asking, where has Josh Frydenberg been all this time. This is a national issue that requires a national response. We had at least a year’s warning this was coming, and nothing was done in preparation. Worse still, if the Liberals had even bothered to implement 2 of the 16 recommendations of the 2009 National Waste Policy we wouldn’t be in this mess at all.
“Australia never should have been allowed to rely on one nation, China, to underpin our waste and recycling system. In 2009 the states and federal government agreed to mandate sustainable procurement policies and improved management of packaging. We heard today that if these policies had been implemented we would have developed ways of using the waste locally and not have had to rely on China.
“Josh Frydenberg needs to take control of the crisis that has happened on his watch. We need to start mandating the implementation of the National Waste Strategy that is sitting gathering dust on the shelf and find ways to better sort and use the waste to create a circular economy," he concludes.
Link to brief audio of statement by Ms Gayle Sloan, Chief Executive Officer of the Waste Management Association of Australia here (google drive link or soundcloud link). Ms Sloan commented on Environment Minister Josh Frydenberg not taking steps to address the crisis.
Link to brief audio of statement by Cr Linda Scott of the NSW Local Government Association here (google drive link or soundcloud link). Cr Scott commented on how NSW councils are having to renegotiate waste contracts as waste companies are going broke and failing to meet contracts.
Inquiry link for more information: here