The Metropolitan Waste and Resource Recovery Group (MWRRG) has been supporting councils to respond to the temporary closure of major recycling facilities operated by SKM Services. SKM has contracts with 33 councils across Victoria. During July, SKM and associated glass recycling facility, GRS have been subject to Environment Protection Authority Victoria (EPA) actions to cease accepting material.
In response, MWRRG is proposing new collaborative procurements for recycling services, working with 11 council clusters comprising more than 60 councils across the state.
The move to large-scale contracts signals a potential revitalisation of the sector. In its statement about the plan, the MWRRG said:
“By councils working together, larger contracts will be offered to the industry to encourage investment in recycling infrastructure and technology, and to attract new candidates to the Victorian recycling sector. Industry will be asked to provide an expression of interest on the collaborative procurements during August with detailed submissions expected by the end of the year. Contracts are expected to be in place by June 2020.”
SKM’s Laverton North site was not able to accept recyclable material from 11 July to 13 July. On 26 July SKM told councils it would not accept material at any of its sites because of its inability to process glass at its GRS glass facility.
On both occasions EPA’s actions were taken to reduce potential risk to human health and the environment posed by stockpiles of recyclable waste material at the site and follow several regulatory notices to clean up operations at SKM’s Laverton North and Coolaroo sites.
SKM’s closure on 27 July meant that most of its contracted councils faced the last-resort option of sending recyclable material to landfill while continuing kerbside collections for households.
Mildura Rural City Council is a municipality affected by the SKM closure. In its public response to the sudden impact of the loss of recycling services it warned, “Council will continue to explore alternative arrangements, however this will be a highly competitive process given there may be many other councils in a similar situation. There is only so much capacity in the recycling sector and the closure of any one of the large re-processors will always cause significant disruption to the industry.”
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