Environment

Tackling WA’s high waste rates

By Megan West, Rachel Tassicker and Isaac Groves 

With WA’s recycling rates currently the worst in the nation, the State Government is seeking public feedback on a new waste strategy to improve the State’s performance.

WA Environment Minister Stephen Dawson spoke at hunger-relief organisation Foodbank’s Perth warehouse on Friday, urging Western Australians to assist in reducing the State’s “growing problem of waste”.

Environment Minister Stephen Dawson touring Foodbank. Photo: Isaac Groves

 “I’m very concerned that we aren’t meeting our waste targets… this strategy looks at a range of changes that we could undertake to help lift our recycling rates in Western Australia,” he said.

“We aren’t recycling properly – particularly in households. Part of this consultation plan looks at how we might change this behaviour.”

The strategy aims to minimise environmental and health impacts, reduce waste generation and increase resource recovery.

In 2014-15, Western Australians generated an average of 2623 kilograms of waste per capita, the highest rate in Australia at 19 per cent above the national average.

About two thirds of WA household waste was food and other organic materials.

Mr Dawson said one of the areas that the consultation paper looked at was food and organic waste coming from households and supermarkets.

“Across Australia, environment ministers are looking at the food waste space,” he said.

“Foodbank is a shining example of what can be done in relation to diverting waste from landfill in Western Australia.”

Foodbank Australia, which accepts surplus food from companies, diverts thousands of tonnes of food from landfill to people in need.

Foodbank’s pre-packaged meals. Photo: Isaac Groves

Foodbank WA chief executive Greg Hebble said they had decreased waste rates by “giving food a third life”.

“We have reduced waste from 11 per cent to four per cent in the past two years,” Mr Hebble said.

“Three and a half million kilograms of food would go to landfill if we didn’t have an organisation.”

Mr Hebble said the products supplied by Foodbank were often distributed within a day of their delivery.

Foodbank WA CEO Greg Hebble. Photo: Isaac Groves

“Some of the products you see today will end up on a table tonight…that’s how quickly it’s moving through,” he said.

Over 3.5 million Australians reported having experienced food insecurity in 2016, with 652,000 people each month receiving food relief from Foodbank agencies.

State Opposition Leader Mike Nahan was contacted for comment.

The government’s new waste strategy is open for public comment until March 1, 2018, and can be found on the WA Waste Authority website.