Waste management and sustainability

Waste management is one of the largest expenses for councils, with more than $198 million spent in 2017/2018.

Councils also own and operate most of South Australia’s waste management facilities and manage the fleet of trucks that collect household waste.

Another important role played by councils is educating residents, businesses and schools about waste and recycling.

All of these services are provided by local government under the umbrella of state government legislation including the Environment Protection Act 1993 and the Green Industries SA Act 2004.

The LGA takes an active interest in waste and recycling and has made this a particular focus in recent years. By supporting councils and working cooperatively with the State Government, including both Green Industries SA and the EPA, the LGA is making a significant contribution to positive reforms currently taking place in South Australia.

Buying it Back

Councils participating in the Buying it Back LGA Circular Procurement Pilot Project are seeking to use their combined buying-power to significantly increase demand for recyclable materials in South Australia.

The aim of this project is to improve the sustainability of waste management practices, ensure the ongoing viability of our recycling system and, over time, reduce councils’ waste management costs. The project represents a significant step towards developing local markets and on-shore processing for recyclable materials within Australia and establishing a truly circular economy.

Buying it Back circular procurementCouncils taking part in the pilot project will, through a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), establish systems and processes to:

  • Prioritise recycled-content through the procurement process;
  • Track the recycled-content purchased by weight; and
  • At the end of the 2019/20 year and subsequent years, publicly report on the amount (number of tonnes) of recycled-content products and materials they have purchased under the MOU.

Whilst councils will seek to increase their purchasing of many products and materials with recycled content, most councils have elected to adopt a target in relation to plastic materials in particular. It is envisaged that following a successful initial set up in 2019/20,  the participating councils will adopt rolling targets until they are buying-back recycled plastic materials equivalent to 50% of the weight of plastics collected in their council area.

Recycled products regularly purchased by local government bodies, that participating councils might consider procuring as part of the pilot project, include:

  • Office stationary/paper;
  • Fixtures (eg. street furniture, drinking fountains, bollards, fencing, decking, garden edging, planter boxes, fitness equipment, wheel stops, speed humps, bins, pipes, signage);
  • Construction materials (recycled-content includes recycled asphalt, glass fines, plastic, rubber, toner); and
  • Compost.

Participating councils captured procurement data from January to July 2020.  The results of this data capture are highly valuable in both establishing a baseline of council purchasing and in demonstrating progress towards achievement of the plastics target.  The outcomes are as follows:

Graphic showing examples of what pilot councils have acheivedGraphic illustrating project achievements

Buying it Back participating councils

Members, click here for further information on this project.