Recycling fiasco to hit councils where it hurts


Recent news that China has banned the importation of certain recycling materials from abroad has left Victoria's councils scrambling to find a solution to the recycling crisis.

We understand that three of Victoria's recycling companies are positioning themselves for 'price adjustments' while dumping recyclable materials in land-fill has also been mentioned. All told Councils are facing steep cost increases, which the MAV estimate to be between 1.1 to 2.5% of a rate increase.

Meanwhile the rate cap for this financial year has been fixed at 2.25%. Many councils charge municipal waste charges which are not subject to the rate cap – this means that any fix to the recycling fiasco will cost rate-payers somewhere in the order of 1.1-2.5% in addition to the rate cap. Blame shifting is taking place between councils, the state government and nebulous 'market forces' that have seen the price of commodity prices crash.

The irony is not lost on the ASU. While council workers have been squeezed for every dollar because of rate capping, rates will now have to go up to address an issue that, with a bit of foresight and smart investment of taxpayers' dollars, should never have occurred.

Rate capping was supposed to force councils to find cheaper solutions to all their operational requirements – including shipping recyclable material to China. Now that solution has failed, councils are expected to cough up to millions of dollars between them to address a problem a little bit of investment years earlier could have saved much more money down the track.

In the end the community is going to have to pay because councils have not been able to do their job properly because rate capping has restricted their ability to fund services as required. The recycling fiasco is just the latest in a long line of rate capping's failures.

It is also timely to remind members that some councils may choose to cut expenditure in other areas of the council organisation to cover the cost of the recycling chaos – if management move to cut funding in your work area, get in touch with your delegate or organiser as soon as possible.


Kate Caruana 2nd March 2018  
  Hello! We have heard talk at Wellinton Shire about making a position redundant, and whilst it is not confirmed, the talk is that it is due to looking for savings due to the increased recycling costs. This position is currently filled by somebody on a temporary contract, but it would be a significant loss to our department, putting pressure on other staff to pick up the workload.  
Melissa Wainwright 14th March 2018  
  Thanks Kate, the changes to recycling are already starting serious conversation at most Councils now. If you hear anything more happening at your Council please call 1300 855 570.  
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