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Cost of Recycling Waste

Radio Broadcast

Sam Telfer, President, LGA (5AA 9.41-9.46) Cost of recycling waste on local councils

(Byner: None of us want to see our council rates go up … I don’t know the councils do either … there’s been a lot of extra costs to process recycling because of China’s decision to not take a lot of our waste, there are companies here that do a lot of the work, it all costs money, everybody’s got to pay. We pay a zero waste levy, it is very big, it’s gone up again exponentially recently, this government said we have no power it’s in the Act … there’s a bank fund … of over $100m so it seems to me that it would be an absolute criminal act if any council … had to say to its ratepayers … we’ve got to dispend with the service or a couple of services … or we have to put your rates up because … what we’ve been doing for a while can’t happen the same way … Sam Telfer … what is this going to mean for councils?)

I think that …. was a good insight into what we’re having to deal with as councils … policy from a foreign government has meant we’re going to have to make changes to the way we’re dealing with our recycling and the costs have gone up exponentially, it costs our member councils another nearly $9m a year at the moment and that’s ever changing … things are getting worse, we’ve seen the closure of sites recently in SA and Victoria which has meant some of our member councils are having to put a large number of funds into this and we really need to make sure that we’re working with the State Government in partnership with local government to get results for our ratepayers … because they are the same people, the state local constituents …

(Byner: … What’s happening to it instead now?)

This is what the challenging part is … the mechanisms which we’ve currently got in place for processing were providing it to a certain standard which China’s accepting and when that changed the processing that was happening wasn’t going to be accepted so things have got to change … China are becoming increasingly reticent to be taking recycling from overseas so it’s a different standard of processing and we also need to start putting efforts and investigations into making sure we can have opportunities to use some of these recyclables here …

(Byner: … Is it … the zero waste levy which you guys collect and it’s gone up so much, is that … not put aside for contingencies like this?)

That was what the concept … always was … it’s risen all the way up to $100 a tonne for solid waste in metro Adelaide this year so that fund is about $34m a year goes from councils’ ratepayers into the solid waste levy and half of that goes to fund the EPA and the other half goes into the green industry fund which you’re talking about and (unclear) contained around $120m.

(Byner: So if it is there why can’t you guys get it?)

This is what we’re encouraging the State Government to open that up, to work with local government to … achieve some outcomes … the concern we have in this year’s budget papers it seemed like the government had gone and used this green industry fund to pay for its home battery scheme and we’re not arguing with the scheme itself … the funding which has been put aside in the green industry fund really has got to be put into … the reason it got put in place in the first place and that’s trying to minimise the amount of landfill being produced here in SA.

(Byner: Thank you for explaining your position …)

John Darley, Advance SA MLC (5AA 9.46-9.49) Cost of recycling waste on local councils

I just had a look at the latest financial statement for the green industries fund which happens to be 2016/17 and they received over $27m in that financial year and the amount in the balance is over $107m … I believe before any money is paid to the local government they should put up a proper business case as to how they’re going to use this money so we just don’t waste it. I understand … the only things that are recycled … are bottles and cans, the green waste, what happens to the rest of it? my understanding it ends up in landfill, we know with the landfill sites there’s a company that operates throughout Australia and overseas, SA company, when it goes to a landfill site it generates methane gas which is 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide but they capture 96% of that and they have these large generators … that capture the gas, it fuels the generators and they generate base load electricity straight back into the grid … more needs to be done in looking at businesses, we know … some of the waste can be used, burnt to generate electricity, some of the waste can be used to manufacture plastic posts … there needs to be more money spent looking at what other alternatives can be used and as long as there is a proper business case … I’ve got no argument about some of this money from the green industry’s SA fund to go into those industries.

(Byner: If the case is legit and it sounds like it may well be, for example the Tea Tree Gully Council have got to find a couple hundred thousand dollars and they just put it plainly what their challenge is I can’t imagine how it wouldn’t be suitable?)

No … and that’s what needs to happen, local government should become fairly innovative, to initiate these and look at these projects where you can use more of the waste and … as long as the business case stacks up why not use the money …

(Byner: … Thank you … the easy way out would be just to say … I’m sorry your rates are going up, if you’re already paying a levy … the levy being as high as it is is one of the reasons why the dumping of waste and rubbish has also been much worse in recent years, people just don’t want to pay … if they’re found do with them what the law says … but we’ll watch this … we know when levies are charged it’s really a tax and then … is the money being used for the purpose which was originally intended or is it just sitting there to make Treasury look a little better … )