Long-term recycling solution needed soon

April 11, 2018

Benalla Rural City Mayor Don Firth .

Benalla Rural City Council says an ‘‘immediate and long-term’’ solution is needed to deal with China’s crackdown on foreign waste.

The impact of China changing the standard for receiving recycled material is a key area of focus in the council’s development of its 2018-19 budget.

The announcement last year that China would stop taking foreign garbage, including recyclables from Australia, has left regional Victorian councils searching for alternative avenues for its recycling.

The council is expected to produce more than 1500 tonnes of recycling this financial year.

Benalla Rural City Mayor Don Firth said it was a hugely complex issue.

‘‘Because of the speed at which this has happened and the potential financial impact this can have on the individuals who produce recycled material, we need to find an immediate and longer-term solution,’’ he said.

‘‘This is having a direct and indirect impact on nearly all councils across Victoria and it is something we are working on, particularly as we consider the 2018-19 operating budget.’’

Historically, China allowed up to 10 per cent contamination in bales, but now requires less than 0.5 per cent contamination, a council statement said.

A Victorian Government relief package hopes to support councils impacted.

Victorian Environment Minister Lily D’Ambrosio said the package would help councils and industry to keep kerbside recycling collections going.

City of Greater Shepparton chief executive Peter Harriott at the time said a decision about a rate rise would be made during the budget period.

It follows fears increased costs for alternative council recycling options would be incurred by ratepayers.

In February, Greater Shepparton City Council said the impact of the ban was ‘‘potentially more than $1 million’’ annually.

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