As you may be aware, the City of Boroondara and a number of other municipalities around Melbourne have been affected by recycling processing issues.
I would like to provide some context and explain why the issue has occurred.
The Environment Protection Authority (EPA) has recently ordered recycling processor SKM to stop receiving recyclable material until a number of EPA requirements have been met. This has impacted the City of Boroondara, as Council’s contracted recycling collection company, Cleanaway, uses SKM to process its recycling collections.
Unfortunately, to date Cleanaway has not been able to find an alternative solution for the disposal of recyclable materials it receives from Boroondara and other councils. This means that while Cleanaway will continue to empty recycle bins across Boroondara, the contents are going to landfill.
Both Council and Cleanaway are exploring all options to ensure the City’s recyclable material is processed and not sent to landfill. Unfortunately the other two companies who process recyclables in Melbourne do not have capacity to take on additional items. Neither Cleanaway nor Council are able to stockpile items on behalf of residents due to safety and regulatory limitations.
This is a very disappointing set of circumstances for Boroondara residents and the wider community. Council urges the Victorian Government to use its Sustainability Fund to invest in a sector that is sustainable and better-equipped. According to the Victorian Auditor General, the fund was holding $511.3 million in June 2018. This money has been collected from ratepayers through a levy charged on waste deposited at landfill and for years the Victorian Government has underinvested in waste reduction and sustainability initiatives. Using these funds to support initiatives such as legislation to ensure product stewardship by manufacturers, improved processing and sorting technology, and developing new local end markets for the recycled product, is critical to ensuring a sustainable recycling sector.
Avoiding the production of waste material in the first place is a key area to be addressed. This requires a national approach and for the Australian and Victorian governments to address issues including the high level of packaging accompanying consumer products.
As a keen recycler, I am disappointed by this situation. While recyclable contents continue to go to landfill, I encourage Boroondara residents to avoid waste from unnecessary packaging wherever possible.
For updates about the recycling processing issue, see our website.
Cr Jane Addis
Mayor of Boroondara