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28/05/2020
Let’s not waste this environmental opportunity

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What’s our glorious part of the world going to look like once COVID-19 restrictions have eased? That’s the million-dollar question. The word on the web tells us that skies have become clearer. The waterways cleaner. On our home turf, EPA Victoria has recorded good air quality every day of May, and there’s been a shift in waste and recycling habits. Let’s take a closer look.

Frankston City Council Mayor Sandra Mayer says: “The amount of waste being placed in public rubbish bins has increased by 18 per cent, while recycling placed in public recycling bins has decreased by about 10 per cent over the last two months (since March 16). Council has experienced an overall volume increase of 20 per cent for all kerbside collection services since March 16 – the largest volume increase being 38 per cent for the garden and food waste service, which could be attributed to more people signing up and extra garden maintenance taking place due to residents spending more time at home. Over the last two months, more than 20,000 people have visited the Frankston Regional Recycling and Recovery Centre compared to 16,000 over the same two months last year.” 

Mornington Peninsula Shire’s executive manager of infrastructure services, Jessica Wingad, says: “The Mornington Peninsula Shire has maintained the kerbside and transfer station facilities during the COVID-19 crisis, including the at-call green and hard waste service. Overall, the volume of waste, recycling and green waste collected has increased by less than 10 per cent. The level of contamination in our kerbside recycling bins hasn’t increased nor has the level of illegally dumped rubbish.” Frankston City Council reported an increase in kerbside recycling bin contamination. 

Both councils say they are committed to a cleaner, greener environment. Current transfer stations for glass and aluminium recycling and great support for the four-bin waste and recycling system, which will be rolled out throughout Victoria by 2030 by the State Government, means further options for recycling glass and aluminium. 

Jessica continues: “The Mornington Peninsula Shire has just completed the second phase of community consultation associated with the Beyond Zero Waste Strategy and Single Use Plastic Policy, both aiming to support the community to move towards best-practice waste management.” 

Cr Mayer says: “Environmental upgrade finance is a type of long-term, low-interest loan repaid via council rates to help businesses fund works to upgrade the energy, water and waste efficiency of their buildings. Investigating the costs and benefits of offering environmental upgrade finance is a key action in Frankston City Council’s Towards Zero Emissions Plan (2019-2023) that was adopted by council in January 2019.”

Where to now? It’s uncertain, but one thing is clear: COVID-19 has given all of us more time to reflect on our waste disposal and recycling habits. An environmental opportunity, if you like. Let’s run with it.

LIZ ROGERS 

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