THE State Government has offered councils a much-needed helping hand amidst the rubbish crisis.
On Friday, Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change Lily D’Ambrosio announced $13 million for councils to help pay to get rid of recyclables – after China said they would only accept cleaner, more processed plastics and paper.
The minister said while recycling is ultimately a matter for councils, the funding was about protecting jobs and ensuring Victorians have the confidence to continue recycling.
It comes after Wonthaggi Recyclers announced earlier this month 33 jobs were in danger if money wasn’t secured to pay the increased fees to get rid of recyclables.
Although councils are waiting to hear exactly how the money – which will run out on June 30 – will be distributed, it buys more time for them to find a solution and prevents a shutdown of kerbside rubbish collection.
The Bass Coast Shire Council’s solution will likely be to increase the garbage levy by about $20, resulting in an extra half a million dollars a year to cover the cost of getting rid of recyclables.
They could find the money elsewhere, but it might lead to major projects being delayed or abandoned.
Mayor Cr Pamela Rothfield welcomed the news from the State Government.
“It’s not only helping councils, but it’s looking at the industry, so it is great,” she said of the State Government’s establishment of a recycling industry taskforce.
“From our perspective, we’re just encouraging everybody to continue recycling because there will be solutions. They will find the solutions.”
The mayor was optimistic of waste sorting facilities being built locally, rather than waste being sorted in China.
“I would not be surprised to see that the industry players will be looking at waste sorting facilities (in Australia) and it would be wonderful to see the industry invest in something like that.
“Let’s change it into an opportunity. If it’s supporting the industry and investigating potential new industries, let’s go for it. I think Gippsland would be wonderfully situated to look at that.”
She said in Scotland, they use single-use plastic bags in road making and pot holes.
On Monday, Labor candidate for the seat of Bass, Jordan Crugnale, said the assistance package was a wonderful outcome for local councils and waste contractors.
“And importantly, the Andrews Labor Government will also be developing a long-term plan to put the recycling industry on more sustainable footing,” she said.
“I encourage everyone to continue to do their bit to reduce paper and plastics in general, find alternatives where possible and be conscious of the packaging when filling up your trolley.
“There are also drop off points in your local area for soft plastics so check out the recycle website to find that store nearby.”
$13m to pick up rubbish