waste | 16th Jun, 2016

Recycling and landfill

Victorians are pretty enthusiastic recyclers. Over the past 20 years, we’ve really started to get our act together. We now recycle a majority of our solid waste, but too much is still dumped into landfill.

It has to do with the amount we consume. We may recycle more but we also consume a lot more than we used to. The effect is that the amount of waste we produce has stayed the same. The availability of cheap and plentiful landfill sites to send our waste to doesn’t help matters.

Recycling has many benefits

The most important benefit is that we recover the raw materials used to make the stuff we use. It takes a lot of energy and water to extract and refine virgin materials from the earth. The process can also cause land degredation and even social upheaval in the local communities it affects. Recycling these raw materials can help us prevent this from occuring.

Recycling also helps us reduce our greenhouse gas emissions. When products are dumped in landfill, the energy used to make them is lost. Recycling them can help us recover some of this energy. Recycling organic waste also helps us reduce our impact on our climate by reducing the amount of methane gas released into the atmosphere.

Appropriately priced landfill levies

Landfill levies are one of the most effective ways to increase the resources we recover and promote more sustainable production and consumption. Landfill levies are a cost put on the weight of material disposed to landfill. The cost of dumping waste in landfill includes the gate fee (set by the landfill operator) and the landfill levy (set by the state government).

Packaging and product waste dumped to landfill is recorded in three ways: municipal waste (household), commercial and industrial waste (offices, retailers and manufacturers), and construction and demolition waste (building sites).

Inert waste (that is, waste that doesn’t biodegrade) is currently subject to a different levy, depending on whether it is from a household or business. The levy also differs depending on whether it is being disposed of in a metropolitan or rural area.

The money raised funds other initiatives

The money raised through the landfill levies can be used to encourage other resource recovery initiatives. Landfill levies are administered by the Environment Protection Authority. The money collected from the levies is then paid into the Environment Protection Fund and directed for expenditure by the government.

Environment Victoria supports the redirection of the landfill levy as it has tremendous benefits for Victoria’s environment. Any increase in the landfill levy should be accompanied by a commitment to increase the amount redirected to other initiatives to prevent waste from going to landfill.