What a Load of Rubbish – S.A. ‘Leading The Way’

In South Australia, the culture of recycling dates back as far as the 1800’s with bottles being voluntarily returned to the drink manufacturers in order for the bottles to be re-used. In 1977, the container deposit legislation was put in place and in 2009 plastic bags were been banned from supermarket checkouts. This has put South Australia at the forefront of national waste reduction and management. Since 2003, the state government has put $59.9 million (AUD) into programs that have helped stimulate councils, businesses and the wider community to reduce waste, continuing the state’s focus on keeping South Australia beautiful (KESAB). In turn, this has not only reduced S.A.’s waste per capita with a recovery rate of %77 (second best nationally), but improved the overall cleanliness of the city as bottles, cans and most containers can be traded in for money. In partnership with the University of South Australia, Zero Waste S.A. (2004) has rolled out programs in discussion with local and state governments and community. Pleasingly, the waste strategy has been integrated into the South Australia’s strategic Plan that aims to reduce landfill by 35% by 2020.

In contrast, Queensland does not have the same legislation. The amount of recycled product is almost 1 tonne more per capita, annually. In addition, the amount of rubbish on the side of the road in Queensland is visually unattractive and government managed incentives to remove it are not transparent.  While Queensland’s recent strategy (Waste-Everyone’s responsibility, 2014) does involve community consultation and local and state government communication, this is in its relative infancy. The decentralised coastal communities and vast areas of low population regional areas, which pose a significant logistical challenge, could further hinder the implementation. There is a plan to introduce a deposit scheme, and the members involved in developing this scheme represent the relevant stakeholders (environmental, community and local government), but this implementation is not remunerated, reflecting the lack of government backing and support. In final summation, the QLD government should support the scheme financially so that stakeholders and members involved in the planning are able to meet more regularly, assisting in the cost of covering such great distances. If members can collaborate more often then this scheme may be implemented much sooner. If Australia is serious about waste management then a nationwide adoption of programs similar to South Australia’s would lead to a quick nationwide solution to waste reduction.

The marketing and management of the recycling legislation in South Australia is promoted in primary schools (wipe out waste program) and is sign-posted throughout the state. The information is distributed to the individuals in all communities, but also to the wider public. Because the greater population are used to working with the environment in mind, they expect the same standards from their industry. This results in a more inclusive, authentic waste reduction strategy.

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