The Victorian Coalition Government is asking Victorians to help shape the future of waste minimisation efforts, ensuring less material goes to landfill and increasing recycling rates.
Minister for Environment and Climate Change Ryan Smith today unveiled the Draft Victorian Waste and Resource Recovery Policy for community comment.
The policy is designed to help transform the state’s waste management system by setting a long-term vision for waste management and resource recovery in Victoria, along with a range of actions to be undertaken over the next 10 years.
“While Victorians are recycling more than ever before, the state’s increased population and the growth in discarded consumer items has seen annual waste generation grow from eight million tonnes in 2000 to around 12.1 million tonnes in 2011,” Mr Smith said.
“We want to prevent more waste going into landfill so the environment doesn’t keep paying the price for our consumption.”
Mr Smith said based on evidence over the past decade, Victoria’s growing population rate and waste generation trends could, if not tackled, see a 45 per cent increase in waste generation over the next 10 years.
“The priority now is to put in place strong and positive measures to reduce waste and increase recycling,” Mr Smith said.
“We must do more to focus our recycling and resource recovery efforts on the materials where there is a strong market demand.
“We don’t just want to keep material out of landfill, we want to make sure that something productive is done with it so that it doesn’t become waste in the first place. A strong market-based operation will help us achieve that goal,” Mr Smith said.
“Our draft policy represents an opportunity to drive further significant and positive environmental reform and demonstrates that we will be doing things differently.
“It complements the hard work we have already done to reform Sustainability Victoria and the Environment Protection Agency, both of which play crucial roles in waste management in Victoria.
“Given that Victoria’s waste and resource recovery industry has an annual turnover of $2.2 billion and employs about 8,000 people, market demand for materials is the best mechanism for determining where efforts should be directed to help recover resources from the waste stream.
“Based on strong stakeholder feedback we have looked at the big picture from household decisions around what to recycle, to kerbside collection, to resource recovery infrastructure and end markets,” Mr Smith said.
The Draft Victorian Waste and Resource Recovery Policy draws on the insights, advice, priorities and issues identified through extensive consultation with industry, government and community earlier this year.
“The case for change to improve how we deal with waste management was also set out in a report by the Victorian Auditor-General in 2011. The report highlighted: ‘... a lack of effective planning, leadership, coordination and oversight’ as reasons for previous under-achievement in managing solid waste in Victoria,” Mr Smith said.
“We want to hear again from Victorians from across the waste and local government sectors to help the Coalition Government determine the final policy for how we manage waste throughout the state.”
“It’s important that, from the beginning, we get this policy right to ensure Victoria has an integrated, statewide waste management and resource recovery system that protects the environment and public health.
“Victorians deserve an essential service that meets our waste challenges in the future, maximises the productive value of resources and minimises long-term costs to industry, government, households and the environment,” Mr Smith said.
Comments are invited until 23 November 2012.
The Draft Victorian Waste and Resource Recovery Policy is available at www.dse.vic.gov.au/waste