We are in the middle of a recycling and waste crisis. But the good news is that it’s being review and the Victorian State Government is conducting an inquiry into recycling and waste management. The public have been invited to have a say, so this is our opportunity to tell the government that we are deeply concerned and need real action to turn around our poorly managed waste systems. Most of the Victorian public are active great recyclers and we need to ensure that recycling is recycled, Very importantly we must also decrease unnecessary rubbish and over-packaging, and develop a greater focus on reuse and repair.

It was never a sustainable or ethical solution to ship recycling overseas. It has been over 12 months since China ceased taking our rubbish and other countries like Malaysia and Philippines are following suit because they don’t want to be a dumping ground, and rightly so!

There is also a $400 million Sustainability Fund that the state government has been accruing over the years. The inquiry asks how this can be used to fund solutions to the waste crisis. The fund should be allocated to support councils, industry and community with education and solutions for effective recycling and waste reduction. This is also an opportunity to support innovation and job creation which will have a positive impact on our environment, economy and job market.

The time for action is now and your voice is needed for the inquiry. All you need to do is write a statement and say what you think. You can choose one concern and write a couple of sentences, or you can list all your concerns and say as much as you desire about waste and recycling. There is no right or wrong, just tell the government what you think and that we need to rescue our recycling – it’s that easy!

State Government Inquiry into Recycling and Waste Management details are here 

The Municipal Association of Victoria’s campaign to help save and strengthen our broken recycling system is here

Make a Submission to the Recycling & Waste Management Inquiry

To make it even easier, for those who’ve not made a submission like this before, here are a few pointers.

  • Every submission will support this inquiry, remember this is an invitation for you to have a say.
  • You can write points or sentences, the more that’s in your own words, the better.
  • No need to get technical, unless that’s your thing. There will be submissions from councils, industry and experts who will talk statistics or detailed solutions. This is a public inquiry and it also needs a community voice.
  • If you’re not sure where to start, then use the points below as a guide. You can choose one point that frustrates you most or you can write an essay and include suggestions for how the government should spend the $400 million Sustainability Fund – there are no word restrictions.
  • Numbers reinforce that the community is paying attention and wants action, so please share this to encourage others to make a submission too.

Points that will be addressed by the inquiry are:

  1. Is it the responsibility of the Victorian government to establish and maintain a coherent, efficient and environmentally responsible approach to solid waste management across the state, including assistance to local councils; (Hint – Yes)
  2. Whether the China National Sword policy was anticipated and responded to properly; (Hint – No – many councils, government and industry have their head in the sand. They had warning, but little was done in preparation, except for hoping another country would take our rubbish. Let’s be real – China taking our rubbish was never a sustainable solution)
  3. Identifying short and long-term solutions to the recycling and waste management system crisis, taking into account:
    a) the need to avoid dangerous stockpiling and ensure recyclable waste is actually being recycle
    b) the cleaning and sorting capabilities and the processing capabilities in Victoria and the potential to expand the local recycling industry
    c) how to better enable the use of recycled materials in local manufacturing;
    d) the existing business model and economic challenges facing the existing industry;
    e) the quantifiable benefits, including job creation and greenhouse gas emissions reduction, of pursuing elements of a circular economy in Victoria;
    f) the existing Sustainability Fund and how it can be used to fund solutions to the waste crisis;
  4. Strategies to reduce waste generation and better manage all waste such as soft plastics, compostable paper and pulp, and commercial waste, including, but not limited to:
    a) product stewardship;
    b) container deposit schemes;
    c) banning single-use plastics;
    d) government procurement policies
  5. Relevant reviews, inquiries and reports into the waste and recycling industry in other Australian jurisdictions and internationally;
  6. Any other related matters.

Important points worth mentioning are

  • Waste to Energy – Don’t incinerate our recycling – Tell the government that incinerating our rubbish is not acceptable. Find out more from Environmental Justice or news article here. This is super important because it is already in the pipeline and it’s scary stuff!
  • Community Education – Some of the Sustainability Fund should be used to develop and deliver education campaigns focused on informing waste-wise decisions, reducing waste, reusing, re-purposing, repairing and correct recycling.
  • Container deposit scheme -why doesn’t Victoria have this? We are only 40 years behind South Australia.
  • Use the Sustainability Fund to support businesses to revolutionise reusable packaging eg. refillable bottles – milks (dairy and plant-based), soft drink etc. (30 years ago this was how it was done – it’s coming back, but there is a cost to establish the infrastructure)
  • Focus on reducing waste – Emphasis on reuse and repair
  • Use the Sustainability fund to support repair initiatives including training programs for skill development and subsidising repairs to reduce landfill.
  • Encourage or subsidise the use of local recycled material – importing recycled resin (because it’s cheaper) might make a product sound good because it has recycled material, but it doesn’t help our local recycling crisis.
  • Support councils, hospitality, schools and community groups to compost and better manage food waste.
  • Mandate that all business, schools, organisations etc. are required to have recycling service – you’d be surprised how many don’t! The sustainability fund should also support education and implementation of recycling infrastructure in these organisations.
  • Container deposit scheme – yes we know we’ve said it before.  Victoria could be forerunners in innovation and set it up to include refillable bottles as well as recyclables. But starting with plastic recyclables is a sensible start, and we should stop wasting time thinking about it.
  • Waste to Energy, yep we’ll say it again. The carbon footprint created with burning rubbish does not make it a sustainable energy source. It is also not a sustainable waste management solution. Make sure you state loud and clear that you are against the funding of Combustion or Thermal Waste to Energy technologies. Make a strong point that burning our rubbish is not a sound solution and that the government should not support it.
  • Remember to share this and encourage as others to make submissions too.

Submissions are due by: Friday 31 May 2019.

Ways to make a submission:

  1. Email to recyclinginquiry@parliament.vic.gov.au
  2. or using the eSubmissions form
  3. or hardcopy; send to:
    The Secretary
    Legislative Council, Environment and Planning Committee
    Parliament House, Spring Street

All submissions should include:

  • Your full name
  • Contact details (either a postal address or phone number)
  • The text of your submission or an attachment containing your submission
  • A clear indication if you are seeking confidentiality

More details about the parliamentary  Inquiry into recycling and waste management are here.

If you have any questions or if you would like to volunteer to support Zero Waste Victoria with advocacy projects please email info@zerowastevictoria.org.au.

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