Victorian councils confront recycling realities

WARRNAMBOOL City Council says its ratepayers face hikes of between $40-50 a household in the next financial year as a result of the collapse in the global market for recyclable materials.

Warrnambool is one of several Victorian councils contracted to Wheelie Waste, which earlier this year was that told it would have to pay Visy Industries to accept recyclable material, rather than being paid for it.

City Infrastructure Director at Warrnambool Council Scott Cavanagh said: “There is no certainty as to how much this is going to cost, and it poses a financial risk to ratepayers and Council’s budget.

“It could be in the order of $40 to $50 per household to ensure we reduce the amount of waste going into landfill.”

Horsham Rural City Council Technical Services director John Martin said Visy’s decision to impose a gate fee on the processing of recyclable materials would result in a processing cost increase of “over $100 per tonne”.

Mr Martin said that this was an extreme cost increase, and that if it continued, the operating cost of Council’s recycling collection service could double.  

Warrnambool Mayor Robert Anderson said waste management was a core business of Local Government.

“[But] when the state government applies a very hefty tip tax it becomes their core business too,” he said. “The Warrnambool community pays about $250,000 annually to the State Government through the tip tax, otherwise known as the landfill levy.

“Revenue from the tip tax flowing back to the regions could help offset the impact on ratepayers.”

Cr Anderson said one action that could help resolve the situation would be the introduction of container deposit legislation.

“Unfortunately, Victoria and Tasmania are lagging behind other states when it comes to CDL. All other Australian states either have CDL or have announced dates for its introduction.

“Victoria needs to catch up. We can follow South Australia’s lead and turn this into an opportunity,” he said.