THE state government has reaffirmed its opposition to raising the landfill levy while announcing that its ambitious recycling targets are becoming increasingly achievable.
The government plans to increase the amount of waste recycled from construction and demolition sources across the state from the 29 per cent recorded in 2009-10 to 60 per cent by 2015.
Construction and demolition waste accounts for more than half of the all waste generated in WA, making it a key focus for reducing how much waste is sent to landfill.
Waste Authority chair Marcus Geisler this week announced solid progress in recycling rates, with estimates that just under half the waste produced was recycled during 2011-12.
“It looks like we’re catching up; for 201112 we’re now looking at a C&D recycling rate of around 47 per cent, so the 60 per cent should be easy to achieve in 2015,” Mr Geisler said.
“This is an incredibly encouraging increase, demonstrating that there are people across different organisations looking to do the right thing. I’m feeling confident that we have the capacity to be able to reach the targets.”
A new facility that separates recyclable and non-recyclable C&D waste has provided a boost for the government’s efforts.
The plant at Instant Waste Management’s Bayswater site is the first of its kind in WA and will be able to process up to 200,000 tonnes of waste annually once fully operational in about two months’ time.
Instant Waste managing director Sam Mangione told WA Business News the $10 million capital cost represented an investment amounting to about 10 to 15 per cent of the company’s total yearly revenue.
Environment Minister Bill Marmion said the plant would provide significant help to the state’s recycling target, but was reluctant to say whether the government should be putting its hand in its pocket to help fund such infrastructure.
“That always is an option, but if the market can do that itself that’s the ideal way to go,” he said.
“There are other policy initiatives and interactions with the market, such as the waste management levy, that can be looked at to control those sorts of situations.
‘‘Certainly they’re the sorts of things we can look at to make sure that down the track we keep going towards our 60 and 75 per cent targets.”
Industry sentiment is that the landfill levy should be increased to deter waste generators from dumping waste that could be recycled.
But Mr Marmion reaffirmed his long-held view that the levy would not be increased from the current $12 per tonne of inert landfill in the short term.
“That will be a budgetary consideration ... it’s a policy thing we can use if we require it down the track; but at the moment there are no plans to change the current levy for landfill,” Mr Marmion said.
He said a facility such as Instant Waste’s provided an incentive for waste generators to recycle because it eradicated the need for them to separate waste at the source.
Builders and developers previously had to separate recyclable and non-recyclable waste, but the new facility can take mixed waste and separate it automatically.
It’s expected that about 95 per cent of waste processed will be converted into reusable products with the remainder going to landfill until a waste to energy solution can be found.
The Environmental Protection Authority is currently assessing the potential for waste to energy plants in WA.