Recycling industry heading for change
With the speed of of a melting glacier, Australia's recycling industry is grinding towards its long-promised national scheme for recycling old computers, televisions and mobile phones, as well as bottles and cans.
There were pledges of future legislation and further studies, but few tangible results to report so far, at a meeting of state and federal environment ministers in Sydney yesterday.
The quick action on a national "cash for cans" recycling scheme, flagged by former Environment Minister Peter Garrett as last year's meeting, will have to wait until next year while a review into its impact on industry is completed.
Legislation to underpin a scheme for recycling electronic waste will not be in place until July next year. The ongoing delays mean up to 200 million electronic items will now go into landfill over the next seven months instead of being recycled.
A scheme for recycling old tyes will be in place by November next year, while legislation for recycling packaging and limiting plastic bag use is now set down for March 2012.
The NSW Environment Minister, Frank Sartor, called for faster action.
"The TV and e-waste strategy is going far too slowly - there is a timetable that's been proposed but it's got to be expedited," Mr Sartor said. "The wheels of COAG move very slowly and they need some WD40."
Mr Sartor said focus would also be placed on moves towards mandatory news emissions and fuel efficiency standards for new vehicles. He also said the process of developing a regulatory impact statement for recycling cans and bottles was "could be called slow and anachronistic"
"It seems to have been designed to kill every living being within a 100 kilometre radius," he said.
The communique issed after yesterday's meeting - the first chaired by federal Environment Minister Tony Burke - said the ministers "reinforced their commitment" to plans to get producers of bottles and cans to take more responsibility for the waste they produce.
"The ministers keep saying they're determined and committed but the timetables for action that appear don't give much substance to that claim," said the director of the Total Environment Centre, Jeff Angel.
The chairman of Clean Up Australia, Ian Kiernan, said "stalling" by the ministers was against the wishes of the wider community. A poll funded by the group last year found that 87 per cent of thos questioned wanted a mandatory recycling scheme for bottles and cans.
A study recently undertaken in Tasmania showed that if that state improved its recycling of glass and aluminium used in bottles and cans, 60 million kilowatt hours of electricity and 256 million litres of water would be saved, Mr Kiernan said.
Source: The Sydney Morning Herald: www.smh.com.au