Wasting away

Bendigo Weekly | Bendigo Weekly | 02-Feb-2018

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CHINA’S decision to impose a ban on the importation of recyclable materials from other countries, including Australia, is expected to have widespread ramifications for the domestic industry, the local government sector and even at the household level.

Unless a solution can be found to the impasse the global giant has imposed on the rest of the world, nations such as Australia will inevitably be forced to seek and fund their own alternative solutions to a multi-billion problem unfolding around the world.

Once upon a time, nations such as Australia thought they were on to a good thing when the opportunity arose to ship off hordes of recyclable material to another nation, only for them to develop it into a range of products that they could sell back to us all. 

No doubt everyone thought they were onto a winner – that is until China had a change of heart.

It’s not a problem blessed with many obvious or easy solutions, and we all share an obligation or duty to be better, and to be more educated about what we put into the garbage, what we put into the recycling container and what we put into our organics collection facility.

Bendigo may well not be impacted by the problem rapidly enveloping other councils, but we would be foolish to think we are immune to the changes. 

And greater Bendigo’s recycling rate already lags behind that of many other councils across regional Victoria and that’s not something any of us should be proud of.

So while we have an obligation to do better at the beginning of this process, others further along the line have a similar duty to be more responsible about what happens to  material they collect on our behalf.

Dumping recyclable material into landfill is not an option – and it would prove very expensive to any council and its ratepayers who all subject to the ramifications of landfill levies imposed upon the local government sector to reflect the state government’s commitment to a zero waste strategy at some point in the future. Ratepayers ultimately carry the burden for that levy.

Greater effort needs to be made to do more with the thousands of tonnes of recyclable material collected by councils at the domestic level. 

Equally, more needs to be done to ensure more material is collected in the first place.

We should not need to send this material half way around the world, but for any sort of viable industry or processing centre to be established, governments at all three levels need to work together to make it happen.

And as history has often proven, that’s usually far easier said than done.    

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