Cessnock Council has unanimously thrown its support behind a Local Government NSW campaign to see 100 per cent of the waste levy reinvested back into recycling and resource recovery.
At Council’s November 7 meeting, Mayor Bob Pynsent tabled a Mayoral Minute which called for the endorsement of the Save Our Recycling campaign as well as contacting state member Clayton Barr in support of the initiative as well as writing to Premier Gladys Berejiklian, then leader of the opposition Luke Foley and Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Penny Sharpe.
Councillor Pynsent said that there had been a disconnect in what council had been paying to the state government in the waste levy to what it was actually seeing back in terms of innovation and resource recovery projects.
“Over the last two years we have paid close to $16 or $17 million in the waste levy and had barely 10 per cent of that back into the community for reuse programs,” he said.
He added that the decision in January this year by China to stringently enforce restrictions on the importation of recycled materials under its National Sword Policy as only worsening the issue.
“In the interim, we’ve had the decision by China not to accept any recycled product, which meant that the whole structure of the business has to change,” he said.
“We need, and I believe I’m speaking on behalf of most councils across New South Wales, to figure out what to do.
“We as a member of Hunter Resource Recovery have been working on alternate ways of using the product. Lake Macquarie has done a fair bit and councils in the Hunter are supporting that in regards to a product that comes from crushed glass that can be used underneath pipes and roadworks.”
Financial statements for 2017-18 show council paid $7.984 million and $6.899 million in waste levy in financial years 17-18 and 16-17 respectively, while Council received $209,000 and $322,000 funding over the same periods to assist with waste management and recycling infrastructure, programs and education.
“Councils need to be active, particularly before the state election to get a commitment to reinvesting into programs because ratepayers are currently paying for the innovation, as we’ve had to put up our waste charges because of the extra costs of secondary sorting,” Cr Pynsent said.