On 15 April 2013, the Victorian Minister for Environment and Climate Change, the Hon. Ryan Smith, released the new Victorian waste policy titled ‘Getting full value: the Victorian Waste and Resource Recovery Policy’. The policy sets out a vision for Victoria’s waste management and resource recovery over the next 30 years and strategic priorities for the next 10 years.
The Policy was developed in response to the Victorian Auditor General’s Office audit report in December 2011 which found that “ineffective planning, leadership and oversight have resulted in inadequate co-ordination of implementation and limited progress” in reducing municipal waste. Victoria’s existing waste policy, Towards Zero Waste policy, is due to sunset in 2014.
The policy provides that the vision for waste management in Victoria is to protect the environment and public health, maximise the productive value of resources, and minimise long term costs to households, industry and government.
The policy identifies the following four key objectives for the waste management and resource recovery system:
- support Victoria’s economic prosperity;
- function as one integrated state-wide waste system;
- protect public health and preserve local amenity; and
- contribute to environmental protection.
Significantly, the policy:
- provides that the waste levy will continue for another 10 years after July 2014 at the same rate "allowing only for annual adjustments at the treasurer’s rate to maintain the value of the levy in real terms” (with the possible exception of untreated organics);
- is clear in its support for “market-based actions” and "waste to energy and other alternative reuse technologies that can convert waste into useful products";
- abandons the existing target-based approach, however, reliable and valid indicators may be developed once the systems are in place; and
- indicates that the waste hierarchy should not be considered in isolation and should be applied in conjunction with the other principles of environmental protection in order to provide an adequate basis for decision making.