Ararat Rural City will continue to collect recycling bins as import ban deadline expires on Friday

COLLECTION: A Wheelie Waste contractor empties a 120-litre garbage bin in Stawell in 2014. Picture: KERRI KINGSTON
COLLECTION: A Wheelie Waste contractor empties a 120-litre garbage bin in Stawell in 2014. Picture: KERRI KINGSTON

Ararat Rural City City has said kerbside recycling collection will continue despite passing a deadline to resolve a waste industry crisis affecting nearly two dozen Victorian councils.

Existing recycling contracts with Wheelie Waste were set to expire on Friday, with the company warning that it would not been able to accept material after China changed its import rules.

Ararat Rural City released a statement on Friday afternoon.

“Council as been working together with the state government, Grampians Central West Waste and Resource Recovery Group and our contractor Wheelie Waste Pty Ltd to find a solution to the current recycling issue,” the statement said.

“Wheelie Waste have confirmed that collection will continue as normal from Monday, 12 February 2018.”

Northern Grampians Shire and Ararat Rural City have continued to collect recycling bins as they and 20 other municipalities try to find a solution amid a waste management crisis.

Visy and its contractor Wheelie Waste told councils across Victoria last week that they will stop accepting recycling by Friday.

Wheelie Waste, services 11 councils in Victoria’s west. 

The councils, including Greater Shepparton, Macedon Ranges, Horsham and Ararat, are now scrambling to find somewhere to dump their recycling.

The recycling industry has warned that curbside recycling may not be viable for much longer, after China banned imports of Australian paper and plastic waste from January 1.

The general recycling stoppage has been blamed on Chinese companies raising their import standards.

Australia’s recycling industry, including Visy, relies on China as a major market for recycled paper and plastics, taking in about 30 per cent of our recycling.

Almost 24 per cent of collected waste in Ararat Rural City and more than 31 per cent in Northern Grampians is diverted from landfills through recycling.

Northern Grampians Shire mayor Tony Driscoll said residents could be reassured that kerbside waste and recycling collection will continue as per normal.

“Ratepayers will not see any disruptions to their services or any increase in costs in the short-term,” Cr Driscoll said.

“Council is already working proactively to develop a solution to the issue, and we are being guided by a number of external stakeholders on this issue, including the Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change.

“This is not an issue localised solely within the Northern Grampians Shire - this is an issue affecting a number of councils right across Victoria, and we will be holding discussions with similarly-affected municipalities as we seek the best outcome for our community.”

Ararat Rural City deputy mayor, Cr Gwenda Allgood has also said kerbside collections will continue, with the council saying it would be “business as usual”.

Municipal Association of Victoria chief executive Rob Spence told the ABC said there appeared to be higher cost options for shipping recyclables overseas and he hoped that could happen without increasing the burden on ratepayers.

“The last thing we want to see is this product going into landfill,” he said. 

Victorian Waste Management Association chief executive Peter Anderson said there needed to be a long-term solution.

“Councils and governments are responsible for saying ‘OK, what are we going to do now with recyclable goods? It is a major concern because we don’t stop throwing things out.”