THE state government has confirmed a strategy designed to help reduce the level of construction and demolition waste going to landfill has been put on hold.
The Waste Authority’s strategic plan, released in March, included a target to double the amount of construction and demolition waste diverted from landfill.
The current recovery rate is 29 per cent, and the Waste Authority planned to increase that to 60 per cent by 2014-15 and 70 per cent by 2019-20.
A key factor in that target being achieved was the use of construction and demolition waste in road base for key state projects such as the Great Eastern Highway expansion.
Under that project alone, more than 1 million tonnes of waste would have been diverted from the state’s landfills – more than a third of the overall amount of construction and demolition waste expected to be recycled at 2014-15 targets.
However, Environment Minister Bill Marmion has confirmed progression of the strategy to use such waste for road base has been put on hold because of asbestos concerns.
The Department of Environment and Conservation is reviewing the use of construction and demolition waste for road base after concerns were raised that recycled material could be contaminated with asbestos.
While Mr Marmion this week approved the Waste Authority’s business plan and allocated $17.2 million for it to follow through on the strategic plan, he said the DEC’s review would determine how the project progressed.
Recycling construction and demolition waste was the biggest target proposed by the Waste Authority, as it made up more than 50 per cent of the more than 8mt of total waste generated in 2009-10.
Urban Development Institute of Australia WA chief executive, Debra Goostrey, said obtaining limestone for road base from south of the river was becoming problematic, so the use of construction and demolition waste was logical.
The management of such waste material needed to be made more affordable, she said.
“If we are to reduce the amount of construction waste going to landfill it must be recognised that recycling waste materials is part of a construction project,” Ms Goostrey said.
In addition, while some local authorities already accepted construction and demolition waste for road base, she said this could be improved.
Another factor in deterring C&D waste being sent to landfill was the levy imposed by the state government.
The current levy, which came into effect in January 2010, charges $12 a cubic metre of inert waste and $28 a cubic metre for solid, putrescible waste.
This reflected a 300 per cent increase in the levy, which the Waste Authority said had greatly improved recycling rates.
When the waste strategy was released in March, Mr Marmion said there were no plans to increase the levy; he’s now conceded some changes may be made following the Landfill Regulatory Review being undertaken by the DEC and Waste Authority.
Meanwhile, the Waste Authority has said a levy increase was needed to support a viable recycling industry.