Adjournment: Waste and Recycling Management

My adjournment matter is for the Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change, and the action I seek is additional support for the not-for-profits who are accepting e-waste.

I recently visited WDEA Works in Warrnambool, where the director of social enterprises, Jack Melican, raised with me an issue the organisation is facing following the government’s changes to how e-waste is disposed of in Victoria. The issue faced by organisations like WDEA is that they are left covering the cost of disposing of the waste that cannot be recycled without any support from the state government, which of course increases costs.

When e-waste is delivered, WDEA uses its all-abilities workforce to take it apart and separate the components that can be re-used and recycled, but despite this they are left with large amounts of waste that has nowhere else to go other than landfill.

The cost of disposing of that comes back to WDEA, taking away from the other programs they can run for their all-abilities team. Jack said often people who are dropping off e-waste think it is a free service and do not understand that it cannot be recycled, and it ends up in landfill and that is a cost that WDEA incurs.

The Andrews government changed the way e-waste is disposed of, and it should be assisting organisations like WDEA to get rid of what they cannot re-use, not the exact opposite.

Jack also raised with me his concerns about the government’s plans to increase the waste levy. There is no plan to protect not-for-profits from the extra cost burden, and this will amount to around $200 000 per year. Jack says Victorian charities generate $130 million in revenue from charity op shop sales for essential social welfare programs for Victoria’s most disadvantaged communities, providing avoided cost for government in the delivery of food for the hungry, shelter for the homeless, crisis support, counselling for those in mental health distress, and a wide range of other illnesses and disability services right through to the care of even pets and animals. These charities also divert over 158 000 tonnes from Victorian landfill and contribute to the circular economy by giving 68 million products a second life every year through charity op shops.

They make a huge positive impact on the environment. But Jack believes Labor’s Recycling Victoria policy will penalise these charities by imposing waste levy increases on them from 1 July 2021 and prevent them from operating at full capacity. He also says Victoria is the only state that is planning to hurt charities this way.

Minister, not-for-profits and charities like WDEA are doing incredible work and help your government achieve its recycling goals. But you want them to be penalised and do not support them in their e-waste collection, which is now increasing landfill levies.

I ask you on behalf of the groups to address these concerns and take action to ensure they are not left with a financial burden that takes away from the important work they do for the community and that the all-abilities community contribute to our part of the world.

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