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Western Victorian waste-recovery leader urges: ‘Keep recycling’

La Vergne Lehmann.

La Vergne Lehmann.


By DEAN LAWSON
A western Victorian waste-recovery leader has called on people across the region to continue recycling efforts despite uncertainty surrounding the industry.
In fact Grampians Central West Waste and Resource Recovery Group executive officer La Vergne Lehmann said circumstances demanded an even greater need for everyday householders to correctly separate their waste.
She said instead of a Chinese import ban of co-mingled recycling waste being an end to recycling in western Victoria and other parts of Australia, it represented an opportunity for the industry to become more targeted and efficient.
“The bottom line is that we want people to continue to recycle and for all of us to do it not only better, but properly,” she said.
“It is likely that the nature of the industry will have to change and business models will have to adapt to a new reality. Although a third of our recycled products go to China there are still markets in Victoria that remain buoyant. But what we know is that the better we are at providing a quality recycled product, which means having less contamination at the source, the stronger position the industry can operate.
“Recycling is like any other export industry, such as mining and agriculture, and subject to world markets.
“We have to accept that markets for plastic, glass, metal and paper will fluctuate and adapt our practices to meet changes in demand.” Horsham, Ararat, Northern Grampians, Hindmarsh, Yarriambiack and West Wimmera municipalities operate waste-collection services alongside Central West Waste and Resource Recovery Group. Many will be directly affected by recycling exporter Visy informing bin-collection contractor Wheelie Waste that because of the Chinese ban it will stop accepting recycled waste from Friday.
Municipal leaders across the country fear that Australia faces heavy financial costs if the industry stumbles towards the brink of collapse.
Failure to find markets for recycled waste will lead to either storing recyclables, which many councils have already decided to do in the short term, or treating them as general landfill waste – expensive and unsustainable.
Ms Lehmann said she remained confident a workable resolution would emerge and if anything, the issue would provide a catalyst to unearthing fresh opportunities.
Complacent
“This has been coming for some time. Like everything we get complacent. But every person has skin in this game,” Ms Lehmann said.
“We all create waste and these days, considering how much waste we produce, it’s not acceptable to say we can just dig a hole to get rid of it.
“The reality is that much of this material has considerable value and opportunities to capitalise on these values are constantly emerging.
“For us, it’s a matter of working out the best for the region and how best to manage it all.
“We have been working with councils to first understand individual issues, because circumstances can differ greatly. But everyone has a positive attitude and are committed to working with government to find resolutions.
“We’re all working to make sure our waste has places to go. There might be some short-term stockpiling required and councils are looking at that option. But we’re confident of finding long-term solutions.
“People realise that things don’t happen overnight. We’d love to be able to snap our fingers, but we don’t have that type of magic.
“The reality is that everyone is sitting at the table working on this and no one has thrown up their hands and walked away from the problem, and that gives me a lot of confidence.”
Grampians Central West WRRG is a statutory authority that provides a link between state and local governments and industry and 12 municipal councils.
Horsham has the largest recycling program in the Wimmera and mayor Pam Clarke echoed Ms Lehmann’s call for people to continue separating their rubbish.
“Yes, the message is definitely for people to keep up recycling. Everyone is working on it and we will find a solution,” she said.
Cr Clarke said that everyday people could play a major role in working through the issue – by being careful with what they placed in their recycling bin to buying recycled products.
“We not only need to be smarter in how we dispose of things, but also in what we buy,” she said.

The entire February 7, 2018 edition of The Weekly Advertiser is available online. READ IT HERE!

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Posted on Feb 7 2018

Posted by on Feb 7 2018. Filed under Community, Education, Environment, News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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