Australian state of Victoria’s approach to waste planning worthy of polite plagiarism

BLOG: Australian States Should Learn from Victorian Waste Management

Mike Ritchie explains why other Australian States should take a leaf out of the Victorian Government’s waste planning reforms…

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Mike Ritchie explains why other Australian States should take a leaf out of the Victorian Government’s waste planning reforms…     

Since the Ministerial Advisory Committee on Waste and Resource Recovery Governance Reform in Victoria in 2013, Victoria has pushed ahead rapidly with a strategic infrastructure approach to waste infrastructure reform.

The MAC report identified the need for much more coordinated approaches to the planning and delivery of waste infrastructure to achieve the State Government goals and objectives. The approach warrants description as a model for infrastructure planning and facilitation:

  • The Victorian Government developed a Victorian Waste and Resource Recovery Planning Framework to assist with ensuring waste is managed in a strategic, streamlined manner with infrastructure placed in the right place at the right time.
  • Sustainability Victoria was given the responsibility to provide direction for the management of waste and resource recovery infrastructure in Victoria. That permitted SV to get on with planning for waste, while the EPA (the regulator) was freed up to focus on compliance and enforcement.
  • Sustainability Victoria was tasked with developing a state-wide Waste and Resource Recovery Infrastructure Plan (SWRRIP) to provide a statewide roadmap to ensure Victoria has the infrastructure to effectively manage the mix and volumes of waste for the next 30 years.
  • Each of the seven regional Waste and Resource Recovery Groups (WRRGs) was tasked with developing a Waste and Resource Recovery Implementation Plan to identify infrastructure needs and how these will be met over the next ten years. The plans, which outline a path for meeting specific regional and local needs, included expected growth in generation, needs analysis and specifically identified infrastructure needs including organics processing, landfill void availability, MRF capacity, C+I sorting, amongst many other components.
  • The regional plans are required to be consistent with government policies including but not limited to land use planning and transport policies and bring together state wide priorities set out in the SWRRIP and apply them within the regional context. This ensures the Victorian system is well planned and coordinated. Each regional plan also includes a landfill schedule. If a proposed landfill is not listed in the schedule,  it does not get  built.
  • In 2015 the Minister for Environment, Climate Change and Water, Lisa Neville released Victoria’s Waste and Resource Recovery Infrastructure Investment Prospectus which identified the key features of the States waste sector: growth, type, infrastructure needs and available high priority waste streams. The prospectus was designed to encourage investment. It was a priority statement by government on what they wanted and on which waste streams.
  • The key waste streams that Government seek investment activity in include: E waste, tyres, organics, timber, glass, plastics, textiles, paper and cardboard, mixed waste sorting, energy from waste, and shredder floc.
  • The Prospectus also pointed to the need for better Government coordination and particularly better integration of the States land use planning frameworks with waste and resource recovery planning.

Time will tell if it drives faster and more profitable investment in recycling infrastructure than previously. What is obvious though is that the emergence of plans for infrastructure, gap analyses, priority statements from government and reformed planning approvals are light years better than the ad hoc approaches that exist in many other jurisdictions.

Mike Ritchie is managing director of  MRA Consulting Group


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