The language of waste management is rapidly changing as South Australian communities increasingly focus on transitioning to the new Circular Economy and Carbon Neutrality.
Strategies and regulatory review underpin targets and actions embracing new economic and environmental objectives driving renewable energy, material resource recovery and re-use, and developing new innovative technology ensuring future sustainability.
In terms of engagement, wherein KESAB environmental solutions facilitates sustainability education and training through leading community and school programs, a Circular Economy points to continual change through participation and actions by community to achieve increased litter reduction, resource recovery through improved waste separation, emissions reduction, and energy and water conservation.
Programs articulated in this annual report highlight the scope of initiatives and demonstrable outcomes delivered by KESAB working with the community at local, national and global levels.
Understanding litter and waste streams is KESAB’s speciality, and engaging and partnering community is an absolute priority if South Australia is to reach new waste reduction targets (70 – 90%) underpinned by regulation and education encouraging increased participation and placing tangible economic and environmental “value” on waste.
Value can be considered through benefits achieved in economic terms ($1 billion annual waste industry in South Australia), and environmental protection and conservation e.g. less litter resource recovery, waste diversion from landfill, energy use, and greenhouse emissions reduction.
South Australia has implemented a comprehensive and collaborative strategic waste reform process working with industry focusing on issues including stockpiling of waste, proximity disposal, monitoring and reporting, and licencing to ensure improved efficiencies to conserve and reuse resources.
Supporting litter reduction the Local Nuisance and Litter Control Bill was introduced in February 2017 providing stronger enforcement opportunities for Councils to report and fine public place litterers and illegal dumpers.
Litter and illegal dumping management costs councils and community millions of dollars each year. Potential income from fines will be hundreds of thousands of dollars and create a network of regular reporters via the “Dob in a Litterer” Ap. The Waste to Resources Fund (Waste Levy) has been increased to $87 tonne in the metro area (half in regional rural areas) increasing to $103 tonne 2019. The Waste Levy is solicited as an incentive to improve resource recovery in context of the Circular Economy.
Waste Levy income is projected to be $70 – $80 million per annum; however the return to the waste sector in dollar terms to drive strategic community education and other initiatives is disproportionate. For instance it does not respond to the demand on KESAB to deliver broad reaching and consistent targeted high profile litter awareness and waste education.
By way of comparison the NSW EPA is investing $20 million over the next 4 years towards litter reduction and recycling initiatives with a 40% litter reduction target.
Whilst KESAB realistically recognises that South Australia cannot match such a level of investment, the demand for increased sustainability education hinged on the Circular Economy, and new targets embraced in the South Australian Waste Strategy 2015 – 2020, highlight that increased program funding must be allocated to drive new community engagement.
South Australia is celebrating of 40 Years of Container Deposit Legislation in 2017. Beverage container return and recycling rates are the best in Australia. However these items contribute to only 3% of South Australian littered items.
CDL is well recognised as a great achievement across Australia. However in remote areas such as the APY Lands, communities are still disposing of hundreds of thousands of beverage containers each year to landfill. Implementing Circular Economy practices to these remote communities will provide social enterprise, cleaner environment, jobs, improved wellbeing and economic return.
Whilst South Australia is achieving significant sustainability education outcomes we will soon be challenged with NSW, ACT, Qld and WA jumping on the CDL and litter reduction wagon, resulting in pressure on South Australia to improve performance and maintain our top spot mantel.
Our skilled and knowledgeable waste education project officers and managers have developed and implemented new environmental sustainability education initiatives through Partnerships including Green Industries SA, Councils and Recyclers SA to engage and educate the community.
However there is only so much KESAB can do towards community capacity building and sustainability education compared to other Australian jurisdictions.
Put simply South Australia is falling behind in litter reduction performance, demonstrated by ongoing poor behaviour, changing demography, community capacity impacting on volunteerism, and in some instances a willingness to undertake on ground environmental clean-up activities.
KESAB strongly believes appropriate funding via the waste levy should be hypothecated towards new litter education and community engagement initiatives.
KESAB sustainability education programs have been embedded in South Australia for over 50 years and we look forward to continuing the challenge to achieving transition to a Circular Economy in partnership with the total South Australian community.