With the recent closure of Belrose tip, Sydney’s waste dilemma has once again been bought to the forefront of local media.
An independent report into the capacity and demand for landfill in the Sydney Basin (commissioned by the NSW EPA in 2009) predicted that all of Sydney’s landfill sites able to accept putrescible waste would be full by 2018/19. Despite the subsequent approval of a Veolia operated Advanced Waste Treatment (AWT) plant, and the soon to be tendered Kimbriki Tip waste sorting facility, it does not hide the fact that we are throwing away too much.
Since the findings of this report, an extension to the Eastern Creek landfill site has been granted, and while waste is already being taken by train daily, to the Woodlawn Facility outside of Goulburn, you can’t help but feel that the changes within the Sydney Metropolitan Area have only delayed, rather than forged a long-term solution. But in the end, it can be rightfully argued that the responsibility for this should all come down to us, the citizenry. It’s up to us to get things in the right bin.
In the private waste market, where customers are charged for each bin collected (and at different rates across services), recycling services are already far cheaper than equivalent general waste services and, realistically, the argument that the time cost of behavioural change in employees more than offsets cost savings of separated collections just doesn’t hold water. All materials collected as recyclables are sold in bulk for re-processing into new product, allowing waste service providers to provide and collect these bins for lower (and sometimes free) prices.
Implicitly involved in the NSW EPA’s programs to solve Sydney’s waste management issues as a BinTrim Business Grantee, Edge Impact has been developing knowledge locally on the Northern Beaches to increase recycling in small business. Our efforts toward promoting behavioural change In SME’s has demonstrated the cost savings possible from effective recycling, and, given the mounting scarcity of landfill – that cost gap is only expected to widen.
However, the current misalignment of domestic waste policy is limiting the effectiveness of market price signals to residents. The current system whereby the costs of waste collection are absorbed into council rates rather than charging residents on a ‘per service’ basis, is overcoming the economic incentive to improve domestic recycling rates. Realigning the objectives of state and local government to fully express the price signal to residents will be crucial in order to motivate the widespread change required to affect these issues.