By Kath Gannaway
Yarra Ranges Council has moved to reassure residents that their efforts to recyle are not in vain, and is urging them to keep recycling.
In the meantime, O’Shannassy Ward Councillor Jim Child says the issue is about more than glass and there needs to be more investigation into the State Government’s landfill levy and how that is spent.
The council’s message on recycling followed a shocking ABC Four Corners report on Monday, 7 August, that revealed hundreds of thousands of tonnes of recycled glass was being stockpiled, and some dumped in landfill.
The council then made inquiries of its recycle provider, Visy.
At its meeting the next night (8 August) they issued a press release stating: “Recyclable materials collected from bins across Yarra Ranges do not end up in landfill with other rubbish, due to the strict processes by council’s recycling provider, Visy.”
Information provided included that glass from recycling bins was sorted by colour and sent to glass and bottle manufacturers and broken glass found in bins, classified as ‘fine material’ was separated in that process.
Of the 17,000 tonnes of recyclable materials placed in Yarra Ranges Council bins, more than 5200 was glass material.
The council report said that about 40 per cent of Visy’s glass collection was sorted as fine material and, due to supply exceeding current demand, this material was stockpiled until appropriate markets were found.
Director Environment and Engineering, Mark Varmalis, said council would continue to work with Visy to advocate for new ways of utilising this glass, to reduce the amount held on-site and ensure no recyclable materials end up in landfill.
Cr Jim Child, council’s representative on the Metropolitan Waste Local Government Forum.
He said he moved a motion over a month ago that the Environment Minister, Lily D’Ambrosio provide an explanation of what the funds raised through the landfill levy were being used for.
“There is close to $500 million sitting in there and in the last budget papers money was coming out of that fund to buy trams and do all sorts of things that has nothing to do with waste.
The Four Corners program also revealed concerns about general garbage going into landfill.
“When we see the things that we saw on Four Corners last night, it starts to make you wonder what is our levy being spent on,” Cr Child told the Mail.
The Victorian Auditor General’s Office currently is currently undertaking an audit of the landfill levy.
The objective of the report, which will cover the 2017-’18 financial year, is to determine whether Victoria’s landfill levy system, including the Sustainability Fund, is reducing waste impacts on the environment, influencing investment in infrastructure for resource recovery, and encouraging innovative alternatives for waste treatment.
“There have been ongoing issues with the landfill levy system, namely, its transparency and management and whether the funds expenditure is meeting the system’s intended legislative purposes,” the VAGA says of the issues it will look at.
Cr Child said there were numerous and serious issues revealed on the Four Corners program which were worrying in the extreme.
“It worried me … of course it worried me, and that’s why I believe there should be a full investigation.
“This (VAGO audit) is something I’ve been asking for for ages and I’m glad it’s in place in Victoria,”
For more information about Visy’s recycling processes, visit www.visy.com.au.