The Hon. J.A. DARLEY (15:41): I rise today to speak about the Local Government Association's Circular Procurement Pilot Project and the importance of increasing demand for recyclable materials in South Australia. Last year, I was pleased to learn that nine councils committed to buying back recycled materials through the Local Government Association's Circular Procurement Pilot Project.
These councils include Adelaide Hills Council, City of Burnside, City of Charles Sturt, Mount Barker District Council, Rural City of Murray Bridge, City of Norwood Payneham & St Peters, City of Onkaparinga, City of Port Adelaide Enfield and City of Prospect. Each council signed a memorandum of understanding, committing to prioritising the use of recycled content in their procurement processes, tracking this purchase content by weight and publicly reporting on the amount of tonnes they have purchased each financial year.
The main aim of this project is to increase local demand for recycled materials to support the development of a circular economy in South Australia and to reduce waste and recycling costs for councils. In the first year of the project, namely the 2019-20 financial year, the participating councils made over 450 purchases of recycled products, buying over 17,000 tonnes of recycled materials. Some recycled products purchased included posts, rails, benches and bollards. Recycled content was also used to reseal roads and to make asphalt pavement.
Although the memorandum of understanding did not set an exact target for councils to adopt, I understand most councils adopted their own rolling targets for buying recycled products, with the goal of essentially buying back recycled materials equivalent to half the weight of plastics collected in their council area. The pilot project is certainly a step in the right direction when it comes to supporting a circular economy. It sends an important message to local manufacturers that there will be demand in this area, and this will hopefully drive further innovation in our state.
There has never been a more crucial time to support local businesses, given the state of our economy due to the devastating impact of COVID-19. This is why it was particularly disappointing to me to recently learn that the South Australian family-owned business Advanced Plastic Recycling missed out on an estimated $220,000 contract to a Victorian company to replace a boardwalk in the Tumby Bay district council.
When I visited the company last year, they indicated that they could take all the hard plastic waste available that they could get. I recognise that Tumby Bay district council is not a formal participant in the pilot project. However, I can understand the frustration caused over this decision, given the council's mayor, who is also the president of the Local Government Association, has openly spoken about the importance of prioritising the use of recycled content in procurement processes in order to support the development of new markets for recycled materials in South Australia.
There is an increased interest from our community in South Australia when it comes to plastic. The public wants to know that its recycled material is being put to good use and that local manufacturers are being supported, especially during these difficult and uncertain times. There is very little point in recycling if that recycled material is not going to be utilised. I am very supportive of the Local Government Association's pilot project, but I hope all councils, including those that are not formally participating in the project, can demonstrate a serious commitment by supporting local businesses.