Greens announce bold plan to tackle recycling crisis


Greens NSW MP and spokesperson for the environment Cate Faehrmann is calling for 100% of the waste levy, or more than $2.1 billion over the next four years, to be diverted into tackling the waste crisis, at a 'Save our Recycling' summit organised by Local Government NSW today.

The NSW government currently spends just 16% of the waste levy on tackling waste, with the rest of the money diverted to general revenue.

"It was particularly disappointing that the Environment Minister Gabrielle Upton refused to commit one extra cent of the waste levy to tackling NSW's growing recycling crisis," Ms Faehrmann said.

"This is despite our recyclables being stockpiled around the state and local government desperate for assistance. Local councils were pleading with the political parties represented there today to commit to investing all of the waste levy on waste management.

"The Greens recognise we need a radical overhaul of how we manage waste in NSW. Our goal should be a circular economy and we have a plan to get there.
"At a time when we need bold leadership and vision, this government would prefer to spend money on stadiums and continue to ignore an alarming environmental crisis.

"The waste levy came in two decades ago. Imagine if we had invested every cent from day one on building new industries to recycle more of our waste and to make more products recyclable in the first place.

"Unfortunately successive governments have treated the waste levy as an easy source of revenue than an opportunity to support innovation and sustainability," said Ms Faehrmann.

The full Greens Zero Waste plan is below.

Contact: Cate Faehrmann - 0412 207 043

The Greens Zero Waste: A Transition Plan to a Circular Economy:

*  Dedicate 100% of the revenue raised by the Waste and Environment Levy into fixing our growing waste crisis. This funding will support two areas of priority:

a) Improving the quality of waste management services, including waste reduction, avoidance and re-use programs, and environmental programs to encourage the development of innovative waste management technology.

b) Rebuilding NSW's domestic recycling capacity, including supporting industry and local government to co-invest in recycling infrastructure projects, identify new uses and markets for recyclable materials, improve the quality of recycled products, and for technical innovations that reduce the amount of unrecyclable material going to landfill.

*  Increase the Waste and Environment Levy 5% per annum. Progressive increases in the Waste and Environment Levy will create a powerful incentive for minimising landfill disposal, driving investment in innovation and technology, and promoting a shift of waste management up the waste hierarchy.

*  Establish an independent NSW Waste and Resource Recovery Commissioner. The Commissioner will lead the development of a state-wide strategy to co-ordinate infrastructure planning and map material and resource pathways over a 30-year timeframe for the whole of the state. The Commissioner will also be responsible for improving alignment and consistency across state jurisdictions, especially to prevent the interstate transport of waste materials.

*  Return all curbside collection and landfill management to public ownership and co-ordination. Public management of waste facilities reduces the perverse profit incentive to increase the amount of disposed waste and limit pre-sorting or pre-treatment. As part of a NSW Waste and Recycling Infrastructure Strategy, The Commissioner, in partnership with Local Government, will chart a 10 year road-map to return essential waste management functions to Council or other public ownership.

*  Phase out all single-use plastics products by 2023. We will immediately ban easily replaceable products including plastic bags, polystyrene food and drink containers, plastic straws and microbeads. Other products will be progressively phased out through regulatory measures, procurement programs and innovation.

*  Introduce strict regulations requiring all packaging be recyclable, compostable or reusable by 2023. This is an existing Australian commitment as part of the UN's Clean Seas program. Unnecessary single-use packaging will be phased out through design, innovation or introduction of alternatives.

*  Mandate statewide kerbside organic waste collection. We will work with local governments to phase in mandatory organic waste collection over five years, including both kitchen and garden waste. This initiative will divert more than one third of the waste stream of NSW from landfill, while creating a valuable compost product for landscape management.

*  Ban all waste-to-energy schemes. Waste-to-energy is unsustainable, environmentally harmful and weakens community support for recycling. We oppose the inclusion of waste-to-energy in the waste hierarchy that underpins the circular economy.

*  Moratorium on new landfill sites. A moratorium on new landfill sites will drive innovation in waste minimisation and material recovery, and also reduce the environmental impacts and liability of landfill, on land, water and in relation to greenhouse gas emissions.

*  Invest in community education and awareness raising. Consumer education campaigns complement the regulatory changes and changing social expectations around waste, and will better inform choices around the benefits of reducing, reusing and recycling unwanted products.