SKM silent on waste fate

By Luke Voogt

The fate of Geelong’s recycling remains a mystery as processor SKM refuses to comment on where the waste will go after collections resume.

Geelong’s council announced on Tuesday that recycling collections would resume after dumping 1600 tonnes of the waste in landfill at a cost of $261,000.

Council began diverting recycling to landfill on 20 February after China’s refusal to accept imports for reprocessing forced the closure SKM’s Geelong depot.

SKM reopened its Laverton North site this week after achieving compliance from the Environmental Protection Authority.

But the company refused to comment when the Indy phoned its head office to ask how it had disposed of existing stockpiles to achieve compliance.

How SKM plans to process recycling as collection resumes in Geelong also remains uncertain following the company’s refusal to comment.

SKM notified council it would re-commence receiving materials at its Geelong site from Wednesday, according to city services director Guy Wilson-Browne

Mr Wilson-Browne told the Indy last week diverting the recycling to landfill was costing $70,000 per week under a State Government levy charging councils per tonne of rubbish.

But council would recoup the levies and other costs, totalling $261,000 over three weeks, from SKM recycling under both parties’ contractual agreement, Mr Wilson-Browne said.

Greater Geelong’s household recycling service returned to “normal“ on Wednesday, he said.

“So please make sure you continue to sort your rubbish between your red and yellow bins appropriately.”

Mr Wilson-Browne supported Municipal Association of Victoria’s (MAV) calls for State Government to bolster local recycling infrastructure.

“The compliance of the SKM Laverton site is positive news for Victoria,” he said.

“However, it is worth pointing out that this is not the solution to the nation’s continuing recycling crisis.

“It’s going to take a partnership approach between state, federal and local government alongside industry to find workable long term solutions to this national problem.”

The MAV’s ‘Rescue our Recycling’ campaign urges State Government to invest “half a billion dollars of unspent landfill levy income sitting in the Sustainability Fund” on local repossessing infrastructure.

The campaign also calls for greater regulation of the local recycling industry and for businesses to take more responsibility to reduce waste.

Ratepayers could do their bit by remembering the waste hierarchy – Reduce, Reuse and Recycle – in “that order, rather than just focus on recycling”, Mr Wilson-Browne said.

“Reducing your waste is the most important and effective way all of us can help solve this crisis.”

SKM has yet to reveal what it has done with its growing stockpiles of recycling in order to reopen its Laverton site.

The manager of SKM’s Geelong site directed the Indy to phone the company’s head office for official comment.

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