Victorian households and businesses generate over 11 million tonnes of waste each year with about 70% of that diverted away from landfill (approximately 7.7 million tonnes). The success of diversion away from landfill, and what can ultimately be recycled, is largely dependent on how we decide to generate and dispose of waste.
Bin audits are a standard practice that enables efficient assessment of the effectiveness of a kerbside recycling program. However, a recent bin audit in metropolitan Melbourne was painted in both social media and mass media as a ‘creepy invasion of privacy’, casting a pall of doubt over the bin auditing process with much of the community.
In response, the Victorian Waste Management Association (VWMA) has called on the Victorian Government to play a greater role in advocating to the public the importance of the waste and recycling sector (including the need for bin audits) to help restore public confidence in the system.
“Recycling correctly is still one of the easiest things Victorians can do to help the environment and the economy. But we don’t always get it right,” VWMA Executive Officer Mark Smith, said.
“Bin audits are an easy and cost-effective way to gauge how we are tracking.”
“Fear mongering and fuelling the fire around this topic is not constructive and does a disservice to the community and may ultimately drive costs up for residents,” he added.
Local governments across Australia carry out bin audits as a standard practice to better understand what is being recycled and what is contaminating the recyclables. This is particularly important with the challenges faced around National Sword/Blue Sky implications. Auditing is generally either managed by local government directly or outsourced to a waste contractor or third-party specialist.
Bin auditing provides insights into common misconceptions around recycling and issues that could be addressed through waste education programs and campaigns.
Unfortunately, a lack of community understanding about waste auditing and waste management more broadly, is fuelling a wave of negativity that is eroding public confidence.
The VWMA is calling on State Government agencies and appropriate local government organisations to develop a consistent set of standards and principles related to bin auditing and engagement with the community (including businesses) on this practice. The VWMA believes there is a shared responsibility with messages to the community around activities such as bin auditing, and that local government shouldn’t have to carry that burden themselves and defend the practice each time it is carried out.
This approach is in line with VWMA’s previous position around the importance of maintaining public confidence in Victoria’s waste and resource recovery system and has called on state government to allocate appropriate resources to the issue.
About the Victorian Waste Management Association
The Victorian Waste Management Association (VWMA) is one of Australia’s oldest waste and recycling associations representing Australia’s largest membership of waste and resource recovery businesses including collection and transporters, processors, recycling facilities and landfills.
For more information on the VWMA please visit: www.vwma.com.au