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The LGA has warned that immediate financial relief and a long term strategy to establish local markets for recyclables are both needed to protect South Australian councils and communities from the impact of changes to China’s waste import policy.

 “A large proportion of Australia’s recyclables (mixed plastics and paper) have historically been exported to China to meet the country’s demand for packaging,” LGA President Lorraine Rosenberg said.

“However, in late 2017, under its Revised Waste Import Policy – also known as the National Sword Policy – China dramatically raised its standards for the contamination of imported products to 0.5% contamination.”

“As a result, China no longer accepts the types of waste products that Australia can viably export, and Australia can no longer rely on China as a destination for its recyclable materials.”

“Until Australian recyclers can find new markets for their materials, they can either stockpile their products, or accept a reduced price. Both of these options will lead to higher costs for councils and their ratepayers.”

The LGA is working with the State Government and waste industry to find short and long term solutions to limit the cost impact and maintain SA’s reputation as a national leader in recycling.

“There is currently more than $100 million sitting in the State Government’s Green Industry Fund that could be used to shield ratepayers from inevitable increases in the cost of recycling,” Mayor Rosenberg said.   

“These funds have accumulated due to exponential increases in the Solid Waste Levy in recent years, and it is set to rise again on 1 July from $87 per tonne to $100 in the metropolitan area.” 

“The LGA has called on the State Government to freeze and review the levy as part of the Liberal Party’s commitment to stop cost shifting to councils and communities.”  

The Victorian and NSW governments recently announced funding support packages of $13 million and $47 million respectively to address the impact of China’s “National Sword” policy.

“Once we’ve got a better understanding of how much this policy will cost South Australian councils and their communities, we’ll be undertaking further discussions with the waste sector and new government around what a support package for our State might include,” Mayor Rosenberg said.

“In the meantime we urge every household to continue their nation-leading recycling practices.” 

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