Mike Ritchie, of MRA Consulting Group, has penned an open letter to NSW Energy and Environment Minister Matt Kean.
Dear Minister Kean,
Firstly, the NSW Government is to be congratulated for leading the country in reforming waste economics, particularly with respect to the historical increases in the s.88 landfill levy. The levy creates the headroom for recyclers to operate profitably.
I write to raise concerns that an apparent absence of strategic clarity on waste reform in NSW, is seeing waste infrastructure development happening in QLD and Victoria in preference to NSW, for the following simple reasons:
- There is no clarity about whether Waste Less Recycle More (WLRM) funding will continue beyond 2020
- the 20 Year Waste Strategy will not be released until 2021, creating investment uncertainty now
- the recent mixed waste organic outputs (MWOO) decision has caused investment uncertainty for big infrastructure
- the Energy from Waste Policy is difficult to implement from a practical perspective, and
- planning approvals in NSW can be twice as long as Victoria and QLD.
As a consequence, we are finding that recycling and waste companies are either deferring decisions to build infrastructure in NSW or are preferencing building in Victoria or QLD. Both are bad for the expansion of our recycling sector post COVID-19, creating new jobs and achieving the State Government recycling targets. That is not to say we are not seeing waste infrastructure applications being lodged, but many short of what we could see if the above concerns were addressed.
Can I recommend that the Government:
- Announce that WLRM infrastructure grants will continue to be funded and bring forward the next round of MRRI grants ASAP
- release an Infrastructure Needs Assessment before the 20 Year Waste Strategy to guide priority infrastructure investment decisions now
- announce a process to revise the energy from waste (EfW) policy
- establish a waste infrastructure planning process that facilitates suitable applications (e.g. a waste state environment protection policy)
- deliver a ‘Government Projects – Recycled Content’ policy, and
- establish an industry forum that meets to discuss the above.
Mike Ritchie, managing director, MRA Consulting Group.