The ACT’s municipal waste mountain at Mugga Lane is growing by nearly quarter of a million tonnes per year yet the Legislative Assembly in the last sitting days before the election focussed on waste management not waste reduction.
Minister Fitzharris obtained support of the Assembly on 4 August 2016 to repeal the Waste Minimisation Act 2001 and replace it with the Waste Management and Resource Recovery Bill 2016 and in the process has not only removed waste minimisation from its name, but also did not have a target-setting mechanism or provide enough powers or responsibilities for waste managers to reduce waste generation.
“The Conservation Council raised issues with the 2015 draft Waste Management and Resource Recovery Bill 2015 and the legislation then went back for re-drafting and did not re-emerge until it was introduced in June 2016. Disappointingly many issues have not been addressed in the legislation,” said Conservation Council Executive Director Larry O’Loughlin.
The Conservation Council called for the legislation to require that a waste strategy be developed and that there should be legislated short and long-term targets for waste reduction, resource recovery and the diversion of waste from landfill disposal.
“Legislated targets have been used successfully in the ACT for greenhouse gas emissions and could also be considered for Canberra’s municipal waste,” said Mr O’Loughlin.
“The legislation establishes the position of ‘Waste Manager’ but does not provide sufficient functions and powers to do anything other than manage the pile of waste not reduce it.”
“Although the legislation will provide some improvements including through the collection of additional data it is not clear that this data will be made publicly available to help bring the community on board with waste reduction measures.”
“The Conservation Council is calling for legislation that has a commitment to waste reduction targets and which sets out a pathway on how waste is going to be minimised.”
“A key task of a future government will be to properly address waste issues through legislated targets as for greenhouse emissions. The current legislation is a waste of opportunity.”
** For more details see the Conservation Council comments on the legislation.