23/06/2011 - 00:00

Better but still behind on waste

23/06/2011 - 00:00

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WESTERN Australia has the worst track record of any state for diverting waste from landfills, new data shows.

WESTERN Australia has the worst track record of any state for diverting waste from landfills, new data shows.

In a report released last week, the Australian Bureau of Statistics estimated that WA diverted just 28.2 per cent of waste material from landfills into waste recovery or reprocessing facilities in 2009-10.

In a separate report completed last month, the state government’s Waste Authority said the diversion rate in 2009-10 was substantially higher, at 33 per cent.

But even this estimate still ranks WA behind every other state, with the national average being 42.6 per cent and the top performer being South Australia with a 66.3 per cent diversion rate.

The Waste Authority said WA’s poor performance relative to other states was due to the size of WA, the larger distances to markets resulting in higher costs, and the “later introduction of a modest landfill levy”.

The good news in the Waste Authority report, prepared by Hyder Consulting, is that WA is lifting its game.

The volume of waste reprocessed in WA has risen from 972,610 tonnes in 2004-05 to 2.65 million tonnes last year.

The diversion rate has also improved, from 27.8 per cent in 2008-09 to 33 per cent last year, according to the Hyder report.

“While some of this increase may be due to an improved survey response, re-processors confirm there has been a strong increase across most materials,” the Hyder report stated.

Hyder approached 87 re-processors, which cover all materials recovered for recycling in WA or for export. Any materials imported into WA for recycling were excluded.

Its report found a wide variation between the metropolitan area and the rest of the state.

The diversion rate in the metropolitan area was 40.6 per cent, well above the statewide estimate of 33 per cent.

“Differences between metro and regional areas in WA are due to the size of the state and the limited options available to operators in remote areas to access recycling facilities,” the Waste Authority said in a statement.

The authority said measures to improve WA’s performance include an increase in the landfill levy, a nation-leading e-waste collection system and household hazardous waste collection schemes.

Last year’s increase in the landfill levy was controversial because the proceeds went into consolidated revenue; previously the funds had been committed to waste initiatives.

In terms of new infrastructure, some of the largest investments in recycling in WA are by regional councils.

Most recently, the Western Metropolitan Regional Council signed-off on a $35 million waste treatment facility being built in Shenton Park by listed Perth company Anaeco and its engineering partner Monadelphous.

The Anaeco facility will process 55,000 tonnes of municipal waste annually.

Another recent initiative was the opening of the $5.4 million Colmax Glass re-processing plant in Kewdale, with a capacity of 40,000y/year.

The Bureau of Statistics report estimated that, in WA, 206 businesses and 141 government agencies employed a total of 4,365 people in the industry.

Nationally, there are an estimated 2,120 businesses and 547 government agencies employing nearly 33,000 people.

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