Beyond Waste

We’re used to all sorts of trash-talk in politics, but instead of parties rubbishing each other’s policies and principles we want to have a different conversation: the Greens SA want to start an ambitious conversation about waste.

The Greens SA envisage a future without waste.

Currently our society does not appropriately value resources, and market mechanisms facilitate the perpetuation of a throwaway culture. As part of this we continue to accept the over-consumption of finite raw materials, planned obsolescence, waste in our manufacturing processes, unnecessary packaging, single-use disposable items, and the resulting social, environmental, and economic cost.

We know that waste in landfill generates harmful pollutants, including methane – a greenhouse gas more potent than carbon dioxide. Enhanced recovery of discarded materials presents considerable potential to positively contribute to climate change and sustainability solutions, but it also has the potential to create jobs within a sustainable economy. This really is a win-win for people and planet.

Progress towards a ‘zero waste’ society will take a significant shift in our thinking and behaviour, but given that today’s waste management decisions leave a legacy

The SA Greens believe that:

  • We should adopt a zero waste goal to conserve natural resources for future generations, avoid the build-up of toxic and noxious substances, conserve water, and achieve deep cuts in greenhouse house emissions and other pollution.
  • As a society we need to actively and collaboratively progress towards zero waste through waste avoidance, reduction, re-use/repair, recycling, and recovery
  • Avoiding, reducing, reusing and recycling waste is integral to effective waste management and to achieving zero waste.
  • Waste should be treated as a resource and reused in a way that achieves the maximum social, economic, and environmental benefit.
  • the full social, health, environmental, and economic costs must be assessed when making decisions about the management and disposal of waste.
  • Manufacturers, distributors and retailers should be required to adopt product stewardship, taking financial and physical responsibility for a product at the end of its life.
  • Hazardous waste creation must be rigorously and independently regulated with a view to eliminating the need for any long term waste storage.
  • There should be high standards of transparency and accountability for industry, including the recycling industry.
  • Policy and financial incentives must be in place for developing processes for the recycling and recovery of domestic and industrial waste
  • We need to remove economic drivers that encourage waste and wasteful practices

The SA Greens want to:

  • Create a state waste strategy that fully articulates, prioritises and applies the waste hierarchy (avoidance and minimisation, reuse, recycling, recovery, disposal)
  • Focus on reducing biodegradable waste to landfill to minimum levels within ten years
  • Require mandatory extended producer responsibility / product stewardship by manufacturers and importers of consumer goods, particularly electronic goods
  • Require mandatory reduction of packaging material by manufacturers and retailers of consumer goods
  • Phase out single use plastics
  • Create incentives for industrial design responsibility which reduces virgin resource use in the manufacture of products, and which requires full recyclability of products where possible
  • Ensure that the full ecological costs of resources and waste management are borne by the producer
  • Prevent the term ‘recycling or recovery’ being used to justify export to, or siting of, waste treatment facilities in disadvantaged communities in Australia or overseas
  • Reject the incineration of waste through thermal waste technologies such as mass combustion incineration, pyrolysis, gasification, plasma arc, and direct thermal desorption
  • Reject the classification of energy produced by thermal waste technologies as renewable energy
  • Ensure stringent standards are met for waste derived soil amendments, composts and ‘fertilisers’ to prevent contamination of agricultural lands and to increase soil productivity
  • Provide government incentives and education schemes for home composting systems that divert putrescible organic waste from landfill to reduce greenhouse gas emissions
  • Provide government incentives and education schemes for local government and private alternative waste management treatment options that divert putrescible organic waste from landfill to reduce greenhouse gas emissions
  • Establish specific rules to minimise waste from materials in the construction and demolition industry through application of the waste hierarchy
  • Introduce standards for product design which encourage ease of recovery of materials for reuse
  • Prohibit the export of hazardous waste and e-waste unless similar health, safety and environmental standards exist in the importing country
  • Mandate labelling of electronics and large manufactured goods that clearly indicates that they may not be placed in household waste or municipal landfill streams
  • Ensure active management of greenhouse gas emissions from current and legacy landfill sites
  • Introduce landfill levies, with funds raised used to improve waste management and discourage waste disposal to landfill
  • Encourage consumers, governments, retailers, distributors and manufacturers to reduce packaging and to offer consumers options for zero packaging
  • Support research, development, and commercialisation of advanced waste processing 
  • Create cost efficient reporting systems to define the true volumes, generators and types of waste, so as to target reduction strategies and evaluate success 
  • Ensure that local government are fully supported and well-resourced to apply recovery and recycling schemes which divert waste from landfill