Western Australia taking responsibility for waste management
During the 1960's Australia was measuring as one of the best in the world when it came to managing waste. Numerous recycling programs were developed in Australia particularly focusing on paper and newspaper. In recent times ‘the combined effects of consumer demand, supermarket policies and cynicism about the effectiveness of waste and recycling campaigns have seen a surge in the volume of waste we produce as a nation' (1). The current rate of waste produced in Australia is increasing by roughly 8% per year. Individual jurisdictions are taking responsibility for managing this growth. Currently, the Western Australian government is critically targeting waste management practices. Examples of this include grants to help reduce waste, the introduction of container deposit schemes and workshops to consulting community members on how to lower the use of single-use plastic.
Grants to help reduce waste
On 26 August 2019 Environment Minister Stephen Dawson announced a further $1.17 million in funding for projects that will support Western Australia's waste and recycling sector. This round of funding will maintain the ongoing support to develop waste and recycling infrastructure in the state. It strengthens the McGowan Governments pledge to a cleaner and more sustainable environment with Minister Dawson stating ‘waste is a priority issue for the McGowan Government and we are committed to funding initiatives through the Community and Industry Engagement program' (2). The grants are being provided as part of the Waste Avoidance and Resource Recovery Strategy 2030 and will be administered by the Waste Authority. The Minister detailed that ‘This program gives industry and community groups' financial backing for projects that contribute to Western Australia becoming a sustainable, low-waste, circular economy.'(2).
The Program will be looking for projects that advance the recovery and the reuse of waste that include plastics, glass, construction materials, demolition constituents and food organics. Grants will also be made to those who encourage behaviour change within the community around improved waste practices. An example of a successful recipient in the last funding round was Green Machines Lab for a plastic processing plant. Minister Dawson welcomed all applications, ‘I encourage the community to access this funding for initiatives that help reduce waste generation, divert waste from landfill and help educate the community and industry.' (2). Applications for grants close September 23, 2019.
Container deposit scheme launch 2020
In July 2019 WA's Environment Minister Stephen Dawson announced Western Australia's new container deposit scheme, ‘Containers for Change' which will commence on June 20, 2020. The establishment of a container deposit scheme will deliver on McGowan Labor election commitment and help divert waste from landfill and create jobs for Western Australians. Minister Dawson stated that ‘WA's container deposit scheme 'Containers for Change' will create positive change for our environment by encouraging people not to litter, and provide a fundraising opportunity for schools and community groups across the State.' (3).
This announcement is a key step in the state improving recycling practices. From June 20, 2020, residents will be able to recycle and return eligible containers to a Container for Change refund point and will receive 10 cents refund for every container. This welcome recycling news will lead to 170 full-time and flexible refund points open for business and a total of 229 refund points to open by the end of the Containers for Change schemes the first year.
Minister Stephen Dawson was jubilant in declaring that ‘Containers for Change is a great win for WA's environment, for jobs, for our local community and sporting groups always looking for new ways to raise much-needed funds, and for our kids to learn about the benefits of recycling. I'm looking forward to returning and recycling my first container on June 2 next year.' (3). There will be a variety of refund points available in the state. These will include over-the-counter depots which will provide individuals on-the-spot refunds, ‘Bag Drops' whereby community members will have the convenience to ‘drop and go' and refunds are deposited into nominated bank accounts once the containers have been counted. There will also be mobile refund points whereby reverse vending machines will process containers for a deposit (3).
Currently, in Western Australia, beverage containers account for 44 per cent of all litter by volume. In the next 20 years, this scheme hopes to reduce 706 million beverage containers from being littered, 6.6 billion fewer containers being sent to landfill and 5.9 billion more containers being recycled. Also, Container for Change will assist in creating 500 jobs across Western Australia with a major objective being to support the employment of people with a disability and the long-term unemployed.
Workshops for ideas to reduce single-use plastics
Recently Western Australia's Department of Water and Environmental Regulation (DWER) have run workshops to attain ideas from the community and local businesses on how to reduce single-use plastics. These were run from May 20 to July 8, 2019, in the hope of gaining more information on how these products impact the environment, waste facilities and human health (4). The workshops generated interest and were held in Perth, Cockburn, Joondalup as well regionally in Albany, Bunbury, Kalgoorlie, Geraldton, Karratha, Port Hedland and Broome. They were created in response to an online community survey ‘Let's not draw the short straw – reduce single-use plastics'.
In 2018, the Western Australian Government banned the supply of lightweight plastic bags and informed government agencies to stop purchasing avoidable single-use plastic items like cups, straws and cutlery. It is clear that Environment Minister Stephen Dawson is taking responsibility for waste management by reducing single-use plastic sharing, ‘single-use plastic products and packaging are commonly littered and have harmful impacts on our environment and wildlife'.
With the ever-increasing amount of waste being produced in Western Australia, it is clear that the State government is implementing and reviewing practices to benefit the environment. Awarding grants, implementing container deposit schemes and seeking consultation from the community to reduce plastics are initiatives that are and will continue to assist the state in positive waste management practices.
https://www.mediastatements. wa.gov.au/Pages/McGowan/2019/ 08/Grants-to-help-reduce- waste.aspx
https://www.mediastatements. wa.gov.au/Pages/McGowan/2019/ 07/WAs-new-container-deposit- scheme-to-launch-on-June-2- 2020.aspx
https://www.mediastatements. wa.gov.au/Pages/McGowan/2019/ 05/Workshops-for-ideas-to- reduce-single-use-plastics. aspx