By Julian Bajkowski
Councils in Western Australia have called on the state government create a new statutory garbo-in-chief to deal with ballooning amounts of waste being created as a byproduct of Perth’s population as the city tries to stay on track to meet tough targets for recycling and the diversion of waste from landfill.
The Western Australian Local Government Association (WALGA) says that the new independent rubbish tsar is needed to provide leadership and coordination on waste matters as councils urgently try to combine their resources and generate the economies of scale needed for larger scale recycling and reclamation to be viable.
The coordination and management of waste is substantial challenge for metropolitan councils across Australia because traditional landfills are now a considerable liability for ratepayers under the carbon economy because of their heavy methane emissions.
Councils are also attempting to get packaging manufacturers and residents to take more responsibility for ensuring that as much rubbish as possible is cleanly recycled and not put into the ground.
“The structures we currently have in place have delivered a range of waste and recycling services which are consistently well rated by the community,” WALGA president Troy Pickard said.
“However, if we are to reach the targets set in the Waste Strategy of reducing municipal waste to landfill by 50 per cent by 2015 and 65 per cent by 2020 and provide the modern infrastructure needed to deal with expected waste generation, then it is critical that a more coordinated approach is agreed and delivered.”
Under WALGA’s grand plan for Perth’s rubbish, the new and independent Waste Authority would be a key part of a “waste management model” created by a “Waste Vision Workshop Group” that councils say has the backing of the resource management sector.
But a major headache for councils remains the beverage industry, especially soft-drink producers, who have waged a major lobbying and litigation campaign to try and stop initiatives like container-recycling-schemes that would effectively remove present ratepayer subsidies to industry through councils picking up the tab for container disposal.
Mr Pickard said the proposed model included integrated waste management initiatives and also recommended an increased role for the state government, greater integration of waste management with the land use planning system and a streamlined Regional Council model to deliver greater commercial flexibility and innovation.
“An independent statutory body overseeing an integrated system will be able to achieve much more than the current system, such as aggregating recycling activities to be able to negotiate better outcomes in commercial markets for recycled products,” he said.
Perth’s rubbish, particularly the smell of it, has been increasingly on the nose with ratepayers as the city continues its expansion into areas that were once well away from houses.
Unpopular aromas emanating from a facility in Caning Vale have also helped trigger state government intervention in dysfunctional councils like Canning which was suspended late last year because of long-running governance issues.
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