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    Pam Clarke.

E-waste impost hits councils

By Colin MacGillivray

Wimmera municipalities have been left out of pocket and scrambling to comply with a State Government ban on e-waste being disposed of in landfill introduced last month.

Horsham Rural City Council awarded a $263,130 tender to Horsham’s CHS Group for the design and construction of an e-waste shed at its Kenny Road transfer station during its last meeting.

While councillors agreed urgent action on the disposal of e-waste – defined as any waste with electrical components, including a power cord or battery – was needed, they said the State Government had provided very little support in implementing the ban.

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Councillor Pam Clarke said the government had nearly $600-million in an environmental fund paid for by a Victorian Municipal and Industrial Landfill Levy.

She said the government should use the fund to help councils adopt new e-waste measures.

“That money is given by councils throughout the state just for the privilege of having a hole in the ground that we put our waste in,” she said.

“It would be nice if the State Government actually decided to send some of that money back to assist councils in providing the facilities we need to deal with our e-waste, which is a huge issue.

“This was a State Government initiative very quickly thrown upon us with very little ability to do a lot of long-term planning.”

Councillor David Grimble agreed, saying $100,000 the council received through a State Government e-waste infrastructure grant was insufficient.

“The balance has to be picked up out of council resources, which means community resources, which is not really fair on local government,” he said.

“We’ve got to do something with e-waste, but the State Government, if it is going to put the cost on local government, should provide better consideration for how they are going to support local government in managing what will be a challenge for our community, not only from managing how we might dispose of e-waste, but the education process.

“We’ve got to get the message out very quickly, not only for our urban ratepayer residents but across our rural sectors, that it’s not appropriate to put e-waste in the bin.”

Council officer John Martin said there had been ‘relatively little awareness’ about the e-waste landfill ban and no statewide advertising campaign letting people know about the changes.

He said the recycling industry in Victoria was now in a precarious position following the shutdown of contractor SKM.

“Our material is not going to SKM, so for Horsham, recycling continues, but I think we’re on the knife’s edge in terms of where we stand with recycling,” he said.

“And here we have a further requirement on us to ensure e-waste material is not being discharged to landfill.”

Ararat Rural City Council announced it would increase charges for green and e-waste to cope with the ban.

Residents can dispose of a bag of small, loose items, or individual small items such as televisions, microwaves and computers for $10 each.

Large e-waste items will cost a minimum of $25 each. Refrigerators, air conditioners and freezers, while technically constituting e-waste, will remain free to dispose of as part of scrap metal collection.

Council chief executive Tim Harrison said the charges did not fully cover the cost of waste items being disposed of, with the council subsidising costs.

“We understand the community might be concerned about these price rises but we do need to try to minimise the cost to the organisation,” he said. 

“There is an enormous amount of pressure on the waste system at the moment, and it’s really important for council to balance the need for reasonably priced waste disposal with an economically responsible approach.”

The entire August 7, 2019 edition of The Weekly Advertiser is available online. READ IT HERE!