While Covid‑19 challenged the financial viability of many local governments, none reduced waste services and only a very few adjusted recycling collection schedules, the Australian Local Government Association has reported.
Assessing the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on kerbside waste collection and recycling services, ALGA said that “while there was anecdotal evidence of increased kerbside waste disposal due to increased consumption of takeaway and home‑delivered food, there was no evidence of any disruptions to collection services”.
The appraisal was prepared for the National Waste Report 2020, commissioned by the federal Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment DAWE and published late last year.
The report is the fifth in the series that began in 2010, and provides a summary of the status of waste in Australia in 2018-19, including data on waste generation, source streams, materials, and fates.
According to ALGA, implementing the updated National Waste Policy through the action plan “offers an unprecedented opportunity to create a circular economy.
“New infrastructure, such as paper processing and chemical plastic recycling plants, will need to be sited appropriately and with consideration for a web of new waste hubs in regional Australia and their transport needs.
“Where waste is to be incorporated into new roads, federal action will be required to harmonise standards. Education programs around curtailing food waste should be harmonised nationally to ensure there is no mixed messaging or duplication, and the hypothecation of waste levies considered to ensure recycling is sufficiently resourced.
ALGA has warned, however, that the introduction of the national waste export ban represents a significant challenge.
To avoid stockpiling or increasing waste to landfills, ALGA says new markets will have to be found for low‑value waste both in terms of processing plants and products to incorporate recycled feedstock.
Key areas of focus will be:
- driving demand for recycled products through government procurement policies;
- supporting improved infrastructure capabilities at materials processing facilities; and
- encouraging residents to continue or improve good waste management practices.