On Friday last week, I had the privilege of once again attending the regular meeting of Environment Ministers in Melbourne. These meeting highlight the critical importance of collaboration between all levels of government in managing our nation’s major environmental challenges.
I was particularly interested in some of the waste management issue on the agenda and took the opportunity to highlight the importance of local government involvement in all aspect of the design and management of waste management programs. Whether it be industry developed product stewardship schemes such as used tyres, computers and televisions or used batteries, banning plastic bags or the management of organic waste such as food waste or green waste. Ultimately, local government ends up managing adverse outcome of poor design and under-resourced programs set up by industry, and that becomes at a cost to the community.
I made the point that while important, voluntary product stewardship schemes will not make a significant difference in reducing the burden of managing waste by councils across Australia, particularly in rural and regional areas. These schemes need to be adequately resourced and properly promoted so that the public know how to participate and where they operate. In relation to rechargeable batteries, I made the point that people often need an incentive to participate in recycling schemes, and I highlighted the success of Container Deposit Scheme in South Australia as a potential model that could be applied to other waste streams. I am pleased to have secured a commitment from Minister Frydenberg that ALGA will be involved in the officer’s groups in further consideration of these matters.
Other matters considered which ALGA supported are the endorsement of the objective of a common national approach to environmental-economic accounting and a free and open sharing of environmental data between jurisdictions. Industries progress on a voluntary phase out of microbeads, the National Market Development Strategy for Used Tyres which will drive the up-take of tyre-derived products in road, rail and civil engineering applications and remove the stockpiles of used tyres across the nation.
The full ministers Agreed Statements can be found on the Department of the Environment and Energy website.