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September 25, 2007

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Ratepayers to bear rising recycling costs unless system improves
GIOVANNI TORRE

Ratepayers would be hit by rising recycling costs unless the current system was improved dramatically, local council chiefs and environmentalists have warned.

“Local government is facing spiralling kerbside collection costs that have risen by over 100 per cent in two years to $60 million per annum,” Dave West, national campaign co-ordinator of the Boomerang Alliance, said at a waste and recycling conference in Fremantle.

“Kerbside recycling will collapse if this trend continues, we need immediate and strong intervention to avert an environmental tragedy.”

Mr West said WA was Australia’s worst recycler and hailed South Australia, which has a container deposit system, as one of the best in the world.
  
He criticised representatives of the bottling and beverage industry, which has offered to fund partially a glass recycling plant in WA only if the Government abandons any plans to introduce a container deposit system.
  
WA Local Government Association president Bill Mitchell said the increase in the cost of recycling was a concern.
  
“A number of recycling companies in WA have gone belly up,” he said. “The costs have risen in particular for glass and plastic as they have to be transported interstate or overseas for processing.”
  
Costs would rise for ratepayers if the trend continued, he said.
  
A deposit scheme would “certainly make the system more efficient”. He criticised advertisements calling it a tax. “It’s not a tax, it is a deposit,” he said. “Return the container and get your deposit back. There is not an increase in cost.”
  
Environment Minister David Templeman said recycling in WA had fallen behind the national average and the establishment of a Waste Management Authority and increasing the landfill levy to improve the economics of recycling were steps in the right direction.

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