WA councils ‘need more support to meet 2030 waste targets’

A lack of “tailored support” for WA local governments means few are on track to meet 2030 resource recovery targets, the Auditor-General has found.

In a new report published last week, the Office of the Auditor-General found inadequate planning at local, regional, and statewide levels was also a significant impediment to WA’s ability to meet long-term targets and objectives.

“Kerbside waste collection is largely effective … and most LG entities deliver waste collection and drop-off services that are highly valued by their communities,” the audit report said.

“[However], WA’s waste recycling rate of 53 percent in 2016-17 was still 5 percent below the national average.

“A combination of local challenges and a lack of tailored support from state government entities prevents LG entities from recovering more waste … and few are on track to help the State meet its Waste Strategy 2030 targets for 2020 to increase waste recovery to 65 per cent in the Perth and Peel region, and 50 per cent in major regional centres.”

The report say the WA Waste Authority and Department of Water and Environmental Regulation (DWER) have substantially improved their support to LG entities since being last audited in 2016, but “both can do more to assist LG entities, particularly those in regional areas”.

The report also suggests unspent landfill levy funds can be used to effectively progress waste management objectives.

“The unspent balance of [the waste levy account] had grown from $30 million in 2015-16 to $40 million in 2018-19 … these reserves can help to better support a range of Waste Strategy 2030 initiatives.”

In related news, the Keep Australia Beautiful Council (WA) has set a new litter-level reduction target of 30 per cent within five years.

The strategy sets four strategic objectives:

  • increase community understanding of the impacts of litter on the environment and support behaviour change;
  • contribute to the long-term prevention of litter and marine debris;
  • ensure the community is aware of the penalties for littering; and
  • monitor the level of litter in WA and its marine environment, and evaluate the effectiveness of programs. 

State Environment Minister Stephen Dawson said last week the Government has undertaken extensive community consultation over the past two years on actions to address litter and single-use plastics, including a ban on lightweight plastic bags, and the introduction of the container deposit scheme, Containers for Change, which is due to start on October 1.