The price of recycling

Since February Australian councils have felt the impact of China’s National Sword policy, which radically reduced the value of recyclable rubbish on the world market, and caused the cost of recycling locally to skyrocket.

A market analysis report commissioned by the Local Government Association of South Australia (LGASA), has identified that the impact of China’s policy on SA’s recycling sector alone could be as high as $8.8 million per year, with the likelihood that most of these increased costs will be passed on to SA councils and their ratepayers.

This figure is based on a $63 per tonne increase in the cost of processing recycled materials, with South Australian councils collecting 140,000 tonnes of kerbside comingled recyclables each year.

LGASA President, Mayor Lorraine Rosenberg, said, “In the medium to long term, we need strong action from the State Government to support a local reprocessing and remanufacturing industry being established here in South Australia that will ensure the long-term viability of the system.”

“In the meantime, the best way to equitably assist councils to continue providing cost-effective waste management services to their communities is through a freeze on any further increases to the Solid Waste Levy.”

The levy is scheduled to increase from $87 per tonne to $100 in metro areas on 1 July, which will cost councils and ratepayers $4.5 million in 2018-19.

Mayor Rosenberg said councils and other members of the waste management sector should be able to apply for funding from the Green Industry Fund to help manage increased costs.

“There is currently around $100 million sitting in this fund, and similar to the approach taken interstate, grant funding should be provided to councils and other members of the waste sector following submission of a business case that demonstrates the support required to maintain positive recycling outcomes,” Mayor Rosenberg said.