Circular Economy Bill: Right destination, wrong path

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One size will not fit all Victorians for recycling services. That’s the message from the Municipal Association of Victoria (MAV) after the State Government’s Circular Economy Bill hit parliament in October.

By downgrading Recyling Victoria (RV) to an agency within the Department of Environment Land Water and Planning (DELWP), and mandating all councils introduce a four bin kerbside collection, communities' risk a future of costly inefficiencies in their waste management services.

Despite its name, the Bill also misses the mark on addressing the circular economy - wasting a prime opportunity to tackle waste minimisation, community education and behaviour change programs. It largely ignores construction and demolition and commercial and industrial waste, which together comprise 80 percent of all waste in Victoria.

MAV President, Councillor David Clark, said this Bill is centred on providing the Victorian Government with the powers to direct and control council waste and recycling activities, instead of supporting the circular economy. He said councils were particularly concerned about the one-size-fits-all approach to four kerbside bins for all homes.

“There is no business case that supports this significant cost impost to ratepayers,” said Cr Clark, we have been asking for it for a year now, without success!”

“It’s ridiculous that councils from Yarra to Yarriambiack would be required to deliver an identical service designed by the state government without local operational expertise or consultation,” Cr Clark said.

“MAV is supportive of practical improvements to recycling practices, but a blanket mandate for all Victorian councils to implement a fourth bin for glass recycling will lead to inefficiencies within the system and significant unnecessary costs for many communities.”

“There are multiple municipalities who have individual rural properties that are larger than a whole metropolitan suburb. Is the government really telling us these people need a bin to dispose of their food and organics waste effectively?”

Cr Clark added that the placement of Recycling Victoria within DELWP simply creates another regulatory arm of Government, rather than the capacity the recycling sector needs to lead the change that we all expect. RV cannot be in DELWP and be an autonomous and transparent decision maker.

“DELWP’s ongoing refusal to share the business case for a separate glass service, and its recent demand that councils sign non-disclosure agreements in order to access kerbside funding support, illustrate the current challenges councils have in dealing with DELWP,” Cr Clark said.

“Local government wants to work with the State to develop and deliver policy and programs that support the transition to the circular economy. Instead, this bill misses an incredible opportunity to drive the change that’s most needed. In its quest to take control, the government risks only adding to the costs, challenges, and uncertainty of recycling in Victoria.”

For further information, contact the MAV Strategic Communications team on (03) 9667 5590.