Mr PURCELL (Western Victoria) (14:29:59) — My question is for Minister Jennings representing the Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change. Recyclable stockpiles are a growing problem, with reports that there are something like 200 dangerous stockpiles of material scattered across the state at this very moment that need to be dealt with. I note the minister's release this week announcing $4.2 million in funding for 13 recycling projects, notably none in western Victoria. My question to the minister is: how is the government investing in a consolidated long-term solution to our recyclable waste crisis?
Question asked by: Mr Purcell
Directed to: Special Minister of State
Asked on: 19 June 2018
The 2018-19 State Budget provided a $14.5 million assistance package to help councils continue kerbside recycling collections, and industry to fast-track infrastructure upgrades. As part of this package the government is also developing a strategic plan to support the recycling industry to transition to a more sustainable, resilient model, in the medium to long term.
Concurrently, the Andrews Labor Government is actively working to reduce the fire risk posed by stockpiled combustible recyclable materials. In July 2017, immediately after the fire at the SICM Coolaroo site, the Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change established the Resource Recovery Facilities Audit Taskforce, chaired by the Environment Protection Authority and including the Metropolitan Fire Brigade, Country Fire Authority, Emergency Management Victoria and the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning. The taskforce is inspecting resource recovery facilities across the state to tackle stockpiles that pose a fire risk. As of 12 June 2018, 278 inspections have been carried out at 112 sites across the state. The taskforce will continue its audit program to ensure all priority sites are inspected.
The Andrews Labor Government also established the 12-month interim Waste Management Policy (Resource Recovery Facilities) to improve safety standards at Victorian waste and resource recovery facilities. Consultation is open until 1 August 2018 on a more permanent tool to manage the risk of fire at resource recovery facilities and ensure these regulatory powers continue to protect Victorians.
Victoria is well placed to tackle recycling issues in the long term. Last year, in an Australian first, the Andrews Labor Government finalised its comprehensive waste and resource recovery infrastructure planning framework, which sets out the infrastructure needed to manage and recover resources from the waste that Victoria's growing population will create over the next 30 years. The framework is complemented by specific strategies on waste education, market development for recovered resources, and organic waste recovery. The government is investing at record levels in waste and resource recovery initiatives that will help implement the framework and strategies, with more than $80 million provided through the last four state budgets.