Victorian State Budget ignores recycling, says MAV

The Municipal Association of Victoria says the Victorian State Budget for 2019-2020 has not focused enough on recycling and waste management systems, which is says are in a “fragile” condition.

Treasurer Tim Pallas on 27 May unveiled a budget that included $14.2 billion in infrastructure investment for 2019-20, such as $3.4 billion in suburban rail and $6.6 billion to remove level crossings.

The MAV, which represents 79 local councils across the state, says the state government is not spending enough on recycling systems, which is particularly challenging as an e-waste ban will take effect on 1 July.

The Victorian government receives $200m annually in municipal and industrial landfill levels, more than half of which is spent on state environmental agencies, the remainder going into the Sustainability Fund.

That Fund had $511m in landfill levies at 30 June 2018, only $34.9 million was committed to tackling recycling over three years, an amount the MAV said was “grossly inadequate” given the scale of the problem and investment required.

“Much more of the State’s landfill levy income must be reinvested into waste and resource recovery – rather than it propping up the Victorian government’s budget,” MAV President, Cr Coral Ross said.

“Councils are part of the solution and stand ready to partner with the State to save and strengthen our recycling system.

“We now need them to use the Sustainability Fund for its intended purpose.”

MAV said the state budget didn’t include money for councils which had extra costs after recycling facilities closed, nor was there money for compensating councils’ additional contract costs to act on the looming e-waste landfill ban.

It comes after the state government in May tasked advisory body Infrastructure Victoria with telling it what sort of infrastructure is needed to support how the state collects and uses recycling.

“Recent changes in the global market for recycled products mean there are flow-on impacts for how Victoria collects, sorts and exports waste, Infrastructure Victoria Chief Executive Officer Michel Masson said.

“With these changes come both challenges and opportunities, and we are pleased to be able to explore these as part of our advice to the government.”

The body’s terms of reference include determining what infrastructure is needed for re-processing and using recycled materials, the waste to energy sector, and resource recovery from organic waste.

Infrastructure Victoria will speak to local councils, industry and the wider community before it produces an interim report in October 2019 and final report to government in April 2020.

Image courtesy Ballarat City Council and MAV.