Chinese recycling policy to cost SA $8.8 million per year

A market analysis report commissioned by the Local Government Association of South Australia has concluded that the impact of China’s National Sword policy on SA’s recycling sector 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.

LGA President said this new market analysis report highlighted the severity of the issue, and the need for State Government intervention.

“The primary concern of the local government sector is to ensure the ongoing sustainability of the recycling industry in South Australia – and preserve the community’s trust and faith in the recycling process – through this time of transition,” Mayor 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.”

“This levy is scheduled to increase from $87 per tonne to $100 in metro areas on 1 July, and the Government should not be imposing increased levy rates on councils at a time when they are already facing increased costs due to market forces beyond their control.”

A freeze to the Solid Waste Levy would save South Australian councils and their ratepayers $4.5 million in 2018-19.

Mayor Rosenberg said councils and other members of the waste management sector who have been disadvantaged by China’s National Sword policy should also have the opportunity 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.

“Our market analysis report shows that for councils transporting recyclables more than 360km it is cheaper to send this material to landfill than process it; so to protect recycling in these areas special consideration needs to be given to regional councils seeking funding support.”

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