From the foreword by committee Chair, Cesar Melhem MP.
This has been a very complex and important inquiry. As can be seen from the more than 700 submissions, the issue of recycling and waste management is one that matters to Victorians.
The Committee addressed the terms of reference in two parts: the first being the issue of the devastating industrial fires that have taken place over the last few years as a result of the illegal or inappropriate stockpiling of dangerous chemicals. In order to address the urgent issue of the management of such stockpiles, the Committee prepared and tabled an interim report in August which identified some of the key issues that needed to be addressed. As the interim report was tabled prior to the conclusion of the inquiry and therefore there was significant evidence still to be taken, the Committee decided not to make recommendations at that point. This issue is addressed in Chapter 1 of this report but the detailed discussion of the issue of the fires is found in the interim report.
The focus of the rest of this inquiry is of recycling and waste management in Victoria, particularly in the wake of changes to the export markets and the impact these changes have had on participants in the Victorian industry and on the Victorian community.
The Committee has provided an overview of the Victorian recycling and waste management system, including some description of the cause and effect of what has become known as the recycling crisis. There is significant discussion about municipal waste, some of the issues of contamination and their impact on recycling, the impact and future of landfills in Victoria, and a range of other issues that have been raised in submissions and in public hearings. These issues include the introduction of a container deposit scheme, the development of waste to energy as a way of divert waste from landfill, the importance of education of the community in how to properly manage their recycling and waste, the development of a circular economy and product stewardship among other things. The committee also considers the overarching structures of government, and whether changes are needed to better oversee the recycling and waste management system in Victoria.
The Committee has made 46 recommendations on a range of issues. It looks forward to receiving the government’s response to these recommendations.
The Committee has also been looking forward to the Infrastructure Victoria evidence-based review of the recycling and waste management industry in Victoria, which is due in April 2020. It is hoped that this review will provide the basis of strategies and policy settings that will lead to a stronger and more dynamic industry and will help the industry grow and prosper. That can only serve the Victorian community well.