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WA to be hit by China recycle ban

Posted on 29 January, 2018 at 2:15

HOUSEHOLD waste charges could increase and Perth’s low recycling rates plummet further after China banned the importation of recycled products such as paper and plastics.

In a move that has drawn alarm from State Environment Minister Stephen Dawson, the Chinese Government recently said it would stop accepting recycled waste from overseas countries including Australia from the end of this year.

The decision comes as a major blow to Perth’s resource recovery centres, which collect recyclable waste on behalf of the city’s councils and process it into products such as paper and plastics that can be sold.

The China ban will be a blow to Perth’s recycling centres.

Sales generated by the recovery centres are a critical source of revenue that is used to pay for waste processing and there are concerns household recycling charges could be forced up as a result of China’s decision.

With Perth’s recycling rates the lowest among major Australia cities — and going backwards according to the most recent census — it is also feared the amount of waste sent to the tip could increase if the recovery centres falter. In a typical Perth recycling bin, paper accounts for 46 per cent of contents, with glass at 32 per cent, plastic 9 per cent and mixed metals 3 per cent.

Mr Dawson, who has staked much on turning around WA’s lagging recycling rates, described China’s decision as a worry and suggested it would make his task harder.

It is feared the amount of waste sent to the tip will increase when the ban is enforced.

“I am increasingly concerned with the recent decision by the Chinese Government to cease accepting a range of solid wastes, including recyclables, from Australia in 2018,” Mr Dawson said.

“WA is in the process of implementing significant reform in the waste sector. Cost-efficient recycling of materials is key to delivering better outcomes across the State.

“The loss of opportunities to manage recycling with our international trading partners risks becoming a major barrier to reform in this State. I have written to the Federal Government to explore opportunities to work with them to mitigate or minimise the impacts of this ban on West Australians.”

Perth’s recycling waste stockpile could get larger after China ban.

Nial Stock, the State general manager of French waste management giant Suez, confirmed China was the linchpin of WA’s recycling exports, which were sold directly to it or through secondary markets such as Vietnam. He said that in the absence of China’s participation, ratepayers could have to pay more for their recycling services.

“In the end the ratepayer will pay extra for the recycling that goes on at their house,” he said.

Curtin University sustainability expert Peter Newman urged the Government to offer incentives to WA businesses to use recycled materials.

“Get businesses under way that manufacture things,” Professor Newman said.

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Categories: recycling

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