The Waste Contractors and Recyclers Association says worldwide demand for recyclables had plummeted since China’s ban but the cost of processing plastics and other materials has soared because buyers want much lower rates of contamination in the products.
“The users have to pay. There needs to be more money in the system if we are to achieve a higher standard of recyclables,” the association’s executive director, Tony Khoury, said.
It will be interesting to see, then, who really ends up footing the bill – consumers, government or producers – for a series of recycling announcements made on Tuesday by the Victorian government, including a new bin for glass waste (a big contaminant in recycling streams), and a container deposit scheme (finally catching up with other states and territories that have either already implemented or announced similar schemes).
The government will fund the $129 million rollout of new bins through the state’s Sustainability Fund as local councils’ kerbside recycling contracts come to an end.
It also plans to invest $100 million in research that will help expand the local processing and manufacturing industry and create more products from recyclable materials.
Premier Daniel Andrews said it was all about helping local businesses give new life to old rubbish. To that end, a $7 million Business Innovation Centre will bring together industry, universities and councils to develop new technologies and creative solutions to waste.
Before this week’s announcement, Sustainability Victoria was already administering grants and funding programs for initiatives that improved Victoria’s waste and recycling systems.
For example, grants of up to $500,000 are available for industry and local government seeking to invest in projects that increase recovery of e-waste materials.
At the national level, the Department of Agriculture Water and Environment has a range of funding and investment programs aimed at protecting the environment and promoting climate action.
At the micro level, School Infrastructure NSW’s Sustainable Schools Grants is a four-year, $10 million dollar program that gives schools the opportunity to develop projects that help students learn about environmentally-sustainable practices and enhance the sustainability of their school environment.
All public schools and preschools can apply for funding of up to $15,000. Some of the work funded by previous grants $1100- $15,000 for “innovative sustainability projects including kitchen gardens, water storage strategies, bee highways to improve biodiversity and more.”
And if you want to find out about other grants available in the sustainability space there are plenty more clues here
Separately, this week, the Governance Institute of Australia – an independent professional association with a sole focus on governance excellence – released a guide to help companies that are seeking education on how to consider and report on material exposures to climate change risk.