“New Waste Strategy Falls Short” : SCEC

Media release banner

MEDIA RELEASE – 23 February 2015

New Sunshine Coast Waste Strategy Falls Short for “Australia’s Most Sustainable region” rhetoric

The Sunshine Coast Council’s new draft Waste Strategy falls well short of community expectations, according to a submission prepared by the Sunshine Coast Environment Council (SCEC).

Trevor Lloyd, Director of respected consultancy firm Sustainability Queensland and a member of the Consultative Committee to Cabinet for Queensland’s first waste strategy in the early 1990’s, assisted SCEC with the review of the draft strategy.

Mr Lloyd said the draft strategy offered little more than a ‘holding pattern’ and that the actions outlined would not allow the region sufficient ‘lead time’ for the development of the infrastructure necessary to meet the future needs of business and the community.

“In many ways, the draft strategy actually falls below current performance standards, let alone providing a path to achieving the position of Australia’s most sustainable region”, he said.

Mr Lloyd has extensive experience in waste management, having previously managed the re-structuring of Queensland’s hazardous waste management sector and the remediation of the Willawong hazardous waste disposal site.

His firm also recently assisted Lake Macquarie City Council, a major coastal Council north of Sydney, with the development of its new waste strategy that included a major focus on the diversion and beneficial reuse of organic (food and garden) wastes.

“These types of initiatives are ‘stock standard’ for local governments today”, he said.  “On the Sunshine Coast, we are unfortunately well behind even these basic programs and the draft strategy, which has a 10 year planning horizon, does not include any substantive actions in this regard.  It is quite surprising and disappointing”.

“To some extent, the limitations of the Council’s draft strategy reflects the most recent LNP State Government ‘industry led’ waste strategy which was roundly criticized by most key stakeholders as manifestly inadequate in terms of performance targets and implementation mechanisms” he said.

“Such an approach was only ever likely to represent a temporary perturbation, rather than a longer term trend”, he added “and we have certainly seen the momentum for improved waste and resource on the coast stall under the previous administration. This momentum needs to be recaptured sooner rather than later.”

SCEC Liaison and Advocacy Officer, Narelle McCarthy also expressed disappointment at the lack of innovation and relevant detail in the Draft Strategy.

“The short-sightedness of this draft waste strategy does not fit with a region whose aim is to become Australia’s most sustainable region, an admirable and achievable ambition which we support.”

“It is globally recognised that diverting organics from landfill and improving reuse and recycling outcomes should be the driving force of modern, sustainable waste management. The Council knows this and has been looking into the feasibility of alternative waste treatments for years, yet they seem to have stalled on the process.”

“It is also extremely disappointing that the Sustainability Park proposed for Caloundra, a precinct to house alternative organic waste treatment and potentially other recycling businesses and so create economic development opportunities, seems to have vanished into thin air.”

“The failure to mention climate change risks and emission reduction opportunities are also glaring omissions.” Ms McCarthy said

“We encourage Council to take stock of the consequences of this current ‘lack lustre’ approach to effective and responsible waste management.”

“The review of the strategy is the opportunity to implement actions which demonstrate leadership and importantly, positions the region where it needs to be on this fundamental sustainability issue” she said.