Recycling and Metro Waste

A broken system

"There is no such thing as away. When you throw something away, it must go somewhere." - Annie Leonard

The Greens (WA) consider waste to be the result of a broken process.

A wasteful society is one which does not appropriately value resources, and one in which market mechanisms have facilitated the perpetuation of a throwaway culture, which accepts built-in obsolescence, unnecessary packaging, single-use items and environmental damage as part of its natural state of being. 

The growth in waste is placing demands on management and disposal facilities.

Almost two thirds of all waste sent to landfill is organic (food waste, paper, cardboard, biosolids, green waste, textiles and wood), with approximately 37 per cent of landfilled waste regarded as readily degradable (biodegradable).

Organic waste in landfill generates methane, a potent greenhouse gas. Estimates of annual greenhouse gas emissions include a large component of emissions resulting from waste disposal over the preceding 50 years.

Today's waste management decisions leave a legacy for future generations. 

The waste sector is projected to continue its contribution to greenhouse emissions of around 15 million tonnes of CO2-equivalent per year.

Of this, approximately 11 million tonnes of CO2-e is derived from landfills.

Enhanced recovery of organic material presents considerable potential to positively contribute to climate change and sustainability issues, and contribute to jobs and the economy.

As of 2014, the City of Kwinana signed a 20 year Waste Supply Agreement with Phoenix Energy resulting in a waste incinerator to reduce pressure on landfills.

This was falsely pitched as environmentally friendly solution, but in reality, falls far short of the mark.

Case studies in Sweden and the UK show that incinerators burn through their country's waste at such an elevated rate that they have to start importing rubbish to keep the machines running.

This is not a sustainable solution for Australia, and the Greens believe that so much more could be done to manage our waste before resorting to incineration.

Programs such as the Container Deposit Scheme in South Australia and the NT have been shown to make a huge impact on the way that we think and deal with our rubbish, with zero cost to the government or taxpayer.

The Greens acknowledge that progress towards a 'zero waste' society will require a significant shift in thinking and behaviour for WA's people.

However, with a realistic strategy that sets achievable targets and articulates a shared responsibility for waste, which is aligned to an accepted and communicated waste hierarchy, and a government committed to leading by example, we believe that it is an achievable goal.  

Recycling and Metro Waste

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Goals

  • To implement readily available solutions that will shift Western Ausdtralia into producing zero waste.
  • Create policy and financial incentives to develop processes for recycling and recover of domestic products and industrial wastes. 
  • To extent producer responsibility measures in place for all products including mandatory reduction of packaging material.
  • To implement a fully costed an well regulated container deposit system for Western Australia.
  • Reduce biodegradable waste in landfill to minimum levels within ten years.
  • Ensure that full ecological costs and waste management costs are incorporated into the price of products.
  • Apply 'hot' waste management technologies (incineration, pyrolysis, gasification, and direct thermal desorption) only where they are appropriate (i.e. in cities or remote areas which have no other waste management options) and ensure that these technologies are only applied after all other measures outlined in the waste hierarchy have been applied and exhausted (avoidance, reuse, recycling, recovery). 

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Authorised by Lynn MacLaren © 2017

Hon Lynn MacLaren MLC - Member for South Metropolitan Region (2009-2017)
Legislative Council, Parliament of Western Australia