A major waste recycling company has pulled some of its Victorian contracts, leaving councils in the lurch and unsure how and where to dispose of recyclable materials.
Recycling giant VISY told Wheelie Waste, a bin collector that services 11 councils in Victoria’s west including Greater Shepparton, Macedon Ranges, Horsham and Ararat, that it would stop accepting council recycling on February 9, Fairfax Media reports.
It’s understood VISY told several waste disposal companies it would cease accepting recyclable materials in early February, citing the commercial difficulties caused by China's ban on the importation of certain types of waste.
China implemented a ban on 24 categories of solid waste earlier this year, which affects an annual average of 619,000 tonnes of materials — worth $523 million — in Australia alone.
Warrnambool is one of the shires affected.
"We've been advised by our contractor that VISY is no longer accepting recyclables, so they have yet to formally tell us what the impact will be," Warrnambool City Council CEO Bruce Anson told the ABC.
"We generate about 3500 tonnes of recyclables a year, they've got nowhere at this stage to put it and the question is: what do you do with 3500 tonnes of recyclables?”
There are reports that several other councils have also been told they will lose service. "We think ultimately there’s a potential for them all to be affected," Municipal Association of Victoria CEO Rob Spence told Fairfax Media. "This is just the beginning of the potential impacts."
Mornington Shire, which uses contractor SKM as its recycler, has reassured its residents they will not be affected.
Dr Trevor Thornton, a lecturer in hazardous materials management at Deakin University, says China’s ban could mean the end of kerbside recycling.
"Kerbside recycling...is fairly fragile and has been for a long, long time," Dr Thornton said.
He told Fairfax Media that the long-term solution lay in governments promoting the use of recycled materials in manufacturing.