Portfolios - Waste Management

 

The Greens (WA) consider waste to be the result of a broken process. A wasteful society is one which does not appropriately value resources, and one in which market mechanisms have facilitated the perpetuation of a throwaway culture, which accepts built-in obsolescence, unnecessary packaging, single-use items and environmental damage as part of its natural state of being.

The growth in waste is placing demands on management and disposal facilities. Almost two thirds of all waste sent to landfill is organic (food waste, paper, cardboard, biosolids, green waste, textiles and wood), with approximately 37 per cent of landfilled waste regarded as readily degradable (biodegradable).

Organic waste in landfill generates methane, a potent greenhouse gas. Estimates of annual greenhouse gas emissions include a large component of emissions resulting from waste disposal over the preceding 50 years. Today’s waste management decisions leave a legacy for future generations.

The waste sector is projected to continue its contribution to greenhouse emissions of around 15 million tonnes of CO2-equivalent per year. Of this, approximately 11 million tonnes of CO2-e is derived from landfills. Enhanced recovery of organic material presents considerable potential to positively contribute to climate change and sustainability issues, and contribute to jobs and the economy.

The Greens (WA) acknowledge that progress towards a ‘zero waste’1 society will require a significant shift in thinking and behaviour for West Australian people. However, with a realistic strategy that sets achievable targets and articulates a shared responsibility for waste, which is aligned to an accepted and communicated waste hierarchy, and a government committed to leading by example, we believe that it is an achieveable goal.
 

Principles
The Greens (WA) believe in
 
  • a society that is actively and collaboratively progressing towards zero waste1
  • a government putting more emphasis on waste avoidance, reduction, recovery and re-use, by motivating individuals and businesses to appreciate the environmental, social and economic benefits of waste minimisation and the value in the vast resource stocks that might once have been considered ‘redundant’
  • clean production targets to reduce industrial and hazardous waste streams
  • policy and financial incentives to develop processes for recycling and recovery of domestic and industrial wastes
  • regulated extended producer responsibility measures in place for all products

 

Measures
The Greens (WA) will initiate and support legislation and actions that:
 
  • implement a fully costed and well regulated container deposit system for Western Australia
  • build a state waste strategy that fully articulates, prioritises and applies the waste hierarchy (avoidance and minimisation, reuse, recycling, recovery, disposal)
  • has a focus on reducing biodegradable  waste to landfill to minimum levels within ten years
  • require mandatory extended producer responsibility /  product stewardship by manufacturers and importers of consumer goods, particularly electronic goods
  • require mandatory reduction of packaging material by manufacturers and retailers of consumer goods
  • creates incentives for industrial design responsibility which reduces virgin resource2 use in the manufacture of products, and which requires full recyclability of products where possible
  • ensure that the full ecological costs of virgin resources are incorporated into the price products
  • ensure that full waste management costs are incorporated into the price of products
  • ensure that any new proposals that generate dioxin and persistent organic pollutants3 by processes such as mixed waste landfills and waste incinerators comply with Australia’s obligations under the Stockholm Treaty and phase out any existing non-complying technologies
  • prevent the term ‘recycling or recovery’ being used to justify export to, or siting of, waste treatment facilities in disadvantaged communities in Australia or overseas
  • apply ‘hot’ waste management technologies (incineration, pyrolysis, gasification, and direct thermal desorption) only where they are appropriate (i.e. in cities or remote areas which have no other waste management options) and ensure that these technologies are only applied after all other measures outlines in the waste hierarchy have been applied and exhausted (avoidance, reuse, recycling, recovery)
  • ensure  stringent standards are met for waste derived soil amendments, composts and ‘fertilisers’ to prevent contamination of agricultural lands and to increase soil productivity
  • provide government incentives and education schemes for home composting systems that divert putrescible organic waste from landfill to reduce greenhouse gas emissions
  • provide government incentives and education schemes for local government and private alternative waste management treatment options that divert putrescible organic waste from landfill to reduce greenhouse gas emissions
  • establish specific rules to minimise waste from materials in the construction and demolition industry in Western Australia through application of the waste hierarchy
  • develop appropriate planning and infrastructure plans to ensure waste management is incorporated into urban and regional planning
  • educate the community about the consequences of generating waste and the benefits of and ways to participate in application of the waste hierarchy
  • create cost efficient reporting systems to define the true volumes, generators and types of waste, so as to target reduction strategies and evaluate success
  • research, fund and publicise independent testing and evaluation of products to minimise the manufacture, import and sale of products found to be unreliable, transitory , inefficient, non-recyclable, unreasonably costly to repair, toxic or dangerous
  • increase funding for Department of Environment and Conservation staff to better regulate waste management facilities and landfills
  • ensure the waste levy is  spent on  waste management strategies in line with the waste hierarchy
  • ensure that local governments are fully supported and well-resourced to apply recovery and recycling schemes which divert waste from landfill
  • support and fund comprehensive recycling and recovery infrastructure tailored to regional Western Australia

(See also the Australian Greens Waste policy)

Glossary

1. Zero Waste – Zero Waste requires eliminating subsidies for raw material extraction and waste disposal, and holding producers responsible for their products and packaging 'from cradle to cradle'. It also refers to the policies and practice that support the development of beneficial uses for materials currently deemed 'waste' which then become resources.

2. Virgin resources –newly extracted and processed raw materials and containing no recycled content.

3. Persistent organic pollutants - Persistent organic pollutants (POPs) are a class of chemicals that persist in the environment, are capable of long-range transport, bio-accumulate in human and animal tissue, and have significant impacts on human health and the environment, even at low concentrations. They include such substances as dioxin, PCBs and DDT.

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