The waste fiasco exposed in the Four Corners report will have wide-ranging implications for local governments.
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For those of us who care about the environment and the efficient recycling of Australia's household and industrial waste, the ABC's Four Corners program was troubling. The factors behind the mess Four Corners exposed on Monday may be complex – but we can play a powerful role in fixing them, if we choose to. Four Corners' revelations will undermine the public's confidence in Australia’s waste management systems and, in turn, confidence in their local Council and the amount of rates they are paying for recycling services. We know, however, that the vast majority of Local Governments across Australia manage their waste collection and recycling operations professionally and in an environmentally sustainable manner, after sustained improvements in policy and practice over decades. We also know that Australia's waste management system is subject to market forces, private practice and regulation that is outside the control of our sector, with cross-border differences exacerbating local issues. What also appears to be common is a failure of other levels of governments to effectively patrol the beat - to identify, penalise and stamp out individuals or companies conducting illegal dumping or other practices that undermine the industry as a whole. And, as the Four Corners program showed, the indiscriminate imposition or removal of state landfill levies create disincentives for recycling, and encourages illegal dumping. State government-imposed levies were originally well intended: to support recycling, to reduce waste going to landfills, to remediate landfill sites, and to educate consumers. Some of this has happened, but there is much more to do and the funds appear to be more and more difficult to access to achieve this. In the absence of sufficient leadership or discipline by others, how can Local Government get the results our communities increasingly expect and demand? We may not have regulatory powers, but what we do have is procurement power. Waste management is one of our largest areas of contracted services. We spend vast amounts of money in this area and we can choose how we spend it and who we spend it with. We can also choose our contract conditions, and how we will enforce those contract conditions. As a client, we can insist on the right to inspect and audit the services we contract, to confirm they are receiving and recycling as contracted, as we are paying them to do, and as we have told our communities we are doing on their behalf. The control and enforcement of our contracted services can be in our hands, if we choose it to be. In addition, if the issue is a lack of market demand for recycled products, or products containing recycled material, our procurement powers can also be used to choose and purchase these products in preference to others. In doing so we will be making a clear statement that we want to create a sustainable destination for recyclables - and that we are prepared to trial them, to use them, and to preference them. Sustainable and valuable recycling requires a circular economy. If we want the supply side to work, we should step up and be part of the demand side. As an elected member, if you care about recycling, have you checked your Council’s procurement policies? Have you asked if your road building specifications state a preference for recycled material, including glass and construction waste? Or that your posts, fences and benches should use recycled plastics? Are your paper sources all recycled? Are you prepared to ask your Council to trial new products to help create new markets? As per my recent column, ALGA will continue to do all we can on the national front to improve results, to better design product stewardship schemes and to keep Local Government at the table as part of the solution. You can do your part locally by checking your contracts, your reporting and enforcement practices, and by ensuring your procurement policies help and don't hinder the use of recyclables. In doing so, you should ask if your own Council would survive the level of scrutiny we witnessed on the television. Let's aim to be part of the solution, not part of the problem. [post_title] => The waste problem is a problem for all [post_excerpt] => The waste fiasco exposed in the Four Corners report will have wide-ranging implications for local governments. 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Cr Jennifer Alden, Craig Lloyd and Cr Andrea Metcalf (L-R).[/caption] Recent audits of local waste and recycling bins have shown that Greater Bendigo residents are still sending significant amounts of recyclables straight to landfill by placing many items that could be recycled into their waste bins. In an effort to improve recycling rates, the City of Greater Bendigo has launched a new community education Sort it out before you throw it out! advertising campaign. The campaign will provide useful information about the items that residents are currently not recycling to make them aware that they can. It will utilise television, radio, print, social media and signage to encourage residents to think about and improve the way they sort their waste, organics and recycling. City of Greater Bendigo Presentation and Assets director Craig Lloyd said the City’s recent waste bin audits showed that 40% of the contents of local waste bins should have been placed in the recycling bin while 22 per cent could have gone in the organics bin. “The audit is backed up by State Government figures that place Greater Bendigo in the bottom 50 per cent of Victoria’s 79 local government areas for waste resource recovery,” said Mr Lloyd. “Unfortunately, many Greater Bendigo residents are still placing recyclables such as paper and cardboard, glass bottles and jars, cans, plastics and organic garden and food waste in their red lid waste bin. “Objects that can be recycled are a valuable resource and the cost of sending waste to landfill will continue to rise so the more we recycle and the less we send to landfill the better. “Greater Bendigo wants to become one of, if not the best, local government area for resource recovery in the future. “Many people may be surprised to learn that Greater Bendigo residents are not very good at recycling and we want to see this change for the better in the near future.” Results from the audit:-
- The average residential red lid waste bin contains 40% recyclable items, 22% organics and 38% actual waste.
- The recyclable materials found in the red lid waste bin were mostly paper and cardboard, glass, plastic and metals.
- The organic materials found in the red lid waste bin were mostly grass clippings and leaves, general food waste and food in packaging.
- The average residential recycling bin contains 9% contamination. This is comprised of 5.3% general waste and 3.7% of materials such as clothing, crockery and scrap metal that cannot be processed through the kerbside recycling collection.
- The average organics bin contains 2% contamination. This is comprised of 1% general waste and 1% recyclables such as glass, plastics and metals.
John Ward/flickr, CC BY-NC-SA[/caption] Peter Martin, University of South Australia; James Ward, University of South Australia, and Paul Sutton, University of Denver
Neither of Australia’s two main political parties believes population is an issue worth discussion, and neither currently has a policy about it. The Greens think population is an issue, but can’t come at actually suggesting a target. Even those who acknowledge that numbers are relevant are often quick to say that it’s our consumption patterns, and not our population size, that really matter when we talk about environmental impact. But common sense, not to mention the laws of physics, says that size and scale matter, especially on a finite planet. In the meantime the nation has a bipartisan default population policy, which is one of rapid growth. This is in response to the demands of what is effectively a coalition of major corporate players and lobby groups. Solid neoliberals all, they see all growth as good, especially for their bottom line. They include the banks and financial sector, real estate developers, the housing industry, major retailers, the media and other major players for whom an endless increase in customers is possible and profitable. However, Australians stubbornly continue to have small families. The endless growth coalition responds by demanding the government import hundreds of thousands of new consumers annually, otherwise known as the migration intake. The growth coalition has no real interest in the cumulative social or environmental downside effects of this growth, nor the actual welfare of the immigrants. They fully expect to capture the profit of this growth program, while the disadvantages, such as traffic congestion, rising house prices and government revenue diverted for infrastructure catch-up, are all socialised – that is, the taxpayer pays. The leaders of this well-heeled group are well insulated personally from the downsides of growth that the rest of us deal with daily. A better measure of wellbeing than GDP The idea that population growth is essential to boost GDP, and that this is good for everyone, is ubiquitous and goes largely unchallenged. For example, according to Treasury’s 2010 Intergenerational Report:
Economic growth will be supported by sound policies that support productivity, participation and population — the ‘3Ps’.If one defines “economic growth” in the first place by saying that’s what happens when you have more and more people consuming, then obviously more and more people produce growth. The fact that GDP, our main measure of growth, might be an utterly inadequate and inappropriate yardstick for our times remains a kooky idea to most economists, both in business and government. Genuine progress peaked 40 years ago One of the oldest and best-researched alternative measures is the Genuine Progress Indicator (GPI). Based on the work of the American economist Herman Daly in the 1970s and ’80s, GPI takes into account different measures of human wellbeing, grouped into economic, environmental and social categories. Examples on the negative side of the ledger include income inequality, CO2 emissions, water pollution, loss of biodiversity and the misery of car accidents. On the positive side, and also left out of GDP, are the value of household work, parenting, unpaid child and aged care, volunteer work, the quality of education, the value of consumer goods lasting longer, and so on. The overall GPI measure, expressed in dollars, takes 26 such factors into account. Since it is grounded in the real world and our real experience, GPI is a better indicator than GDP of how satisfactory we find our daily lives, of our level of contentment, and of our general level of wellbeing. As it happens, there is quite good data on GPI going back decades for some countries. While global GDP (and GDP per capita) continued to grow strongly after the second world war, and continues today, global GPI basically stalled in 1970 and has barely improved since. In Australia the stall point appears to be about 1974. GPI is now lower than for any period since the early 1960s. That is, our wellbeing, if we accept that GPI is a fair measure of the things that make life most worthwhile, has been going backwards for decades. What has all the growth been for? It is reasonable to ask, therefore, what exactly has been the point of the huge growth in GDP and population in Australia since that time if our level of wellbeing has declined. What is an economy for, if not to improve our wellbeing? Why exactly have we done so much damage to our water resources, soil, the liveability of our cities and to the other species with which we share this continent if we haven’t really improved our lives by doing it? As alluded to earlier, the answer lies to a large extent in the disastrous neoliberal experiment foisted upon us. Yet many Australians understand that it is entirely valid to measure the success of our society by the wellbeing of its citizens and its careful husbandry of natural capital. At the peak of GPI in Australia in the mid-1970s our population was under 15 million. Here then, perhaps, is a sensible, optimal population size for Australia operating under the current economic system, since any larger number simply fails to deliver a net benefit to most citizens. It suggests that we have just had 40 years of unnecessary, ideologically-driven growth at an immense and unjustifiable cost to our natural and social capital. In addition, all indications are that this path is unsustainable. With Australian female fertility sitting well below replacement level, we can achieve a slow and natural return to a lower population of our choice without any drastic or coercive policies. This can be done simply by winding back the large and expensive program of importing consumers to generate GDP growth – currently around 200,000 people per year and forecast to increase to almost 250,000 by 2020. Despite endless political and media obfuscation, this is an entirely different issue from assisting refugees, with whom we can afford to be much more generous.
You can read other articles in the Is Australia Full? series here. Peter Martin, Lecturer, School of Natural & Built Environments, University of South Australia; James Ward, Lecturer in Water & Environmental Engineering, University of South Australia, and Paul Sutton, Professor, Department of Geography and the Environment, University of Denver This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article. [post_title] => Why a population of, say, 15 million makes sense for Australia [post_excerpt] => Neither of Australia’s two main political parties believes population is an issue worth discussion. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => population-say-15-million-makes-sense-australia [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-07-13 19:22:19 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-07-13 09:22:19 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=27605 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw )  => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 27598 [post_author] => 670 [post_date] => 2017-07-12 20:51:30 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-07-12 10:51:30 [post_content] => [caption id="attachment_27599" align="alignnone" width="300"] The grey area shows the area to be relinquished by Shenhua (NSW Government).[/caption] The NSW Government has reached an agreement to protect (some of) the Liverpool Plains by scaling back the section of the Shenhua Watermark Coal exploration licence that encroached on the flat fertile agricultural land of the plains. Minister for Resources Don Harwin said the agreement will see the government refunding around $262 million in exchange for 51.4 per cent of the company’s exploration licence being handed back, originally sold to Shenhua by the previous Labor government. “Any future mining activity will now be restricted to the ridge lands, with a commencement still subject to further management plans and the ongoing monitoring of strict conditions already in place.” Labor is questioning the money NSW Labor is calling on the government to cancel the Shenhua Watermark project altogether, criticising the decision to compensate the company $262 million for 51.4 per cent of their exploration licence, which expired in October 2016. According to the NSW Labor statement, a clause in the exploration license states: “If the licence holder fails to commence substantial development of a mine within eight years of the awarding of the original exploration license… the Minister may cancel any title in place.” NSW Labor Leader Luke Foley said the decision by the Government will inevitably see mining on the fertile Liverpool Plains, and the payment was unnecessary. “It is outrageous that this government will hand back hundreds of millions of dollars for Shenhua Watermark to continue exploration in Liverpool Plains, after it was already given eight years. The exploration licence needs to be cancelled. “The license holder has not commenced substantial development of a mine, despite receiving an exploration licence almost nine years ago. “Labor is calling on the NSW Government to shut Shenhua Watermark down because the potential impact to the environment is unacceptable.” Shadow Minister for Resources Adam Searle added: “While Shenhua Watermark is free to pursue a new lease, even on a smaller parcel of land, the NSW Government is under no obligation to pay them any money and should not do so – but especially after their exploration license has already expired… This is grotesque corporate welfare when they should be investing in new classrooms and hospitals.” Farmers are not happy, either Liverpool Plains farmers have reacted angrily to the NSW Government’s announcement that it has bought back only half of the coal exploration licence over the Liverpool Plains owned by Shenhua, allowing the company to go ahead with an open-cut coal mine in the midst of NSW’s food bowl. Breeza farmer Andrew Pursehouse, whose property adjoins the proposed Shenhua coal mine, said: “We’ve been betrayed by the NSW Government. If it was serious about protecting farmland, it would have cancelled the coal licence outright and stopped this coal mine. "Carving out areas that Shenhua wasn't going to mine won't change a thing. Anything less than the full cancellation of the Watermark Project will fail to protect the farming systems of the Liverpool Plains. "The community is fully committed to fight this coal mine going ahead no matter what this government decides." National campaigner for Lock the Gate Alliance Phil Laird said: “The NSW Government could have cancelled this licence and banned coal mining on our agricultural land. Instead, they are handing tax-payers’ money to a foreign-owned company and waving them through to mine our food bowl. It beggars belief. “We will support the farming community of the Liverpool Plains to keep this mine out of one of the best agricultural regions in this country. [post_title] => Did the NSW Government have to pay for the coal licence? [post_excerpt] => The NSW Government spent $262m, but did it need to pay even a cent? [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => nsw-government-pay-coal-licence [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-07-12 20:51:30 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-07-12 10:51:30 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=27598 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw )  => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 27581 [post_author] => 670 [post_date] => 2017-07-10 15:38:55 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-07-10 05:38:55 [post_content] => While South Australia extends a program to boost exports of the state’s making, Queensland’s coffers have been boosted by the post-cyclone recovery of its coal exports. Queensland: coal rules The value of Queensland merchandise exports surged 32.2% - or an increase $15.5 billion - in the past year to be $63.4 billion in the 12 months to May 2017, boosted by the recommencement of coal exports following the cyclone. In the 12-month period until May 2015, total Queensland merchandise exports was $46.5 billion. “Queensland posted a record calendar for exports in 2016 with $52 billion. We are well on track to post another record this year,” she said. “Overseas trade supports thousands of local jobs in key industries across Queensland.” The Premier said growth had been across key markets including Queensland’s top three trading partners - China ($16.5 billion total exports, at an increase of 46%), Japan ($10 billion up 26%) and India ($8.5 billion up 61%). Treasurer and Minister for Trade and Investment Curtis Pitt said a significant rise in the value of coal exports was the primary driver behind Queensland setting another record export total but exports of some agricultural commodities also rose in value. “The significant rise was driven largely by an increase in the value of coal exports, primarily hard-coking coal, and to a lesser extent LNG exports. “This was despite the impacts of TC Debbie which caused significant disruption to coal exports in the May quarter. “While the volume of coal exports was down by an estimated 13.4 million tonnes compared to a year earlier, the nominal values were supported by a surge in coal prices.” Mr Pitt said a number of agricultural exports rose in the May quarter compared with the same period last year. “Crops exports increased $180 million over the year to May quarter 2017 to $474 million, driven largely by an increase in chickpea exports and to a lesser extent wheat,” he said. “Cotton exports rose $61 million over the year to $188 million in the May quarter. “The latest data also showed an increase of $385 million in mineral exports over the year to May quarter 2017, rising to $2.3 billion. “There was a $172 million increase in the value of aluminium exports, particularly alumina,” Mr Pitt said. South Australia’s Export Partnership Program (EPP) The Export Partnership Program provides funding assistance for small and medium-sized businesses to access new global markets through marketing and export development opportunities, and has now been opened up to associations as well as individual businesses. It can help local businesses to:
- research feasible overseas markets,
- develop marketing material for distribution overseas,
- participate in international trade shows, trade missions and overseas business programs,
- adapt websites for specific international markets,
- access cultural and export training, mentoring and coaching services, and
- support incoming buyers.
- Eligible applicants must export goods or services that are grown or ‘Made in South Australia’.
- If goods or services are not made in South Australia, then businesses must prepare a detailed submission outlining the net benefits that the product or service will bring to the state.
- Goods are considered ‘Made in South Australia’ if the manufacturing process for a business meets those requirements.
- A biorefinery in another Queensland sugarcane region by US biotechnology company Amyris that would create 70 operational jobs. The company aims to produce 23,000 tonnes a year of a sugar cane-based ingredient called farnesene used in products including cosmetic emollients, fragrances, fuels, solvents, lubricants and nutraceuticals.
- A planned $26 million expansion of United Ethanol’s Dalby Biorefinery facility by 24ML to 100ML, creating 50 jobs. The company also plans to conduct detailed scientific studies to improve the marketability of its high-value and high-protein animal feed product called ‘dry distillers grain’ later this year.
|Don’t know/Not sure||18.5%||25.8%||18.1%||16.7%||18.4%||29.7%||15.4%|
- Amending the rules to require all goods purchased by the Australian Government to comply with national standards.
- The introduction of policies to promote environmentally sustainable procurement and best practice terms and conditions for subcontractors.
- The appointment of an independent Industry Advocate to provide support for businesses to access Commonwealth contracts, to provide advice to government agencies, and to evaluate and monitor the economic benefit associated with government procurement.
- The publication of comprehensive guidelines to inform officials’ application of the rules in a consistent, transparent and equitable manner.
- National Top Collector per Capita – District Council of Orroroo – Carrieton (SA).
- NSW Top Collector – New South Wales – Hornsby Shire Council.
- Territory Top Collector – Northern Territory – Alice Springs Town Council.
- QLD Top Collector – Queensland – Brisbane City Council.
- WA Top Collector – Western Australia – City of Stirling.
- SA Top Collector – South Australia – City of Onkaparinga.
- TAS Top Collector – Tasmania – Burnie City Council.
- VIC Top Collector – Victoria – Moonee Valley City Council.
- Hornsby Shire Council
- City of Sydney
- Randwick City Council
- Lake Macquarie City Council
- Burwood Council
- Alice Springs Town Council
- East Arnhem Shire Council
- West Arnhem Regional Council
- Brisbane City Council
- Redland City Council
- Townsville City Council
- Scenic Rim Regional Council
- Cairns Regional Council
- City of Onkaparinga
- City of Charles Sturt
- City of Tea Tree Gully
- City of Mitcham
- City of Port Adelaide Enfield
- Burnie City Council
- Launceston City Council
- Glenorchy City Council
- Break O’Day Council
- Kingborough Council
- Moonee Valley City Council
- Nillumbik Shire Council
- City of Monash
- Latrobe City Council
- City of Greater Geelong
- City of Stirling
- City of South Perth
- City of Fremantle
- City of Cockburn
- City of Vincent
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