Two motions that I have previously promoted on Ballina Council were on the agenda at last week’s State Conference of the NSW Local Government Shire’s Association (LGSA) in Sydney. It was my first LGSA conference and I attended along with three other Ballina councillors.
The motions were to ban single-use, non-biodegradable plastic bags, and to introduce a container-deposit scheme (CDS) in NSW. Ballina Council had previously resolved to write to NSW government ministers urging action on both.
The LGSA has now adopted both these motions as policy. That’s good news, since it means that the executive will now set up meetings with NSW government ministers to push for legislative changes.
The introduction of a CDS is long overdue. South Australia has had one since 1977 and now recycles about 85 per cent of containers compared with NSW, which recycles 45 per cent. A CDS is the only proven way to increase recycling beyond the current levels.
A CDS not only reduces the amount of resources and energy consumed in container production, but also reduces the amount of landfill waste. Ballina’s landfill costs are among the most expensive in the country because of its location and the strict environmental controls.
Council is a major collector of recyclable material, and under a CDS we would receive a financial benefit, when compared to the current situation.
For too long government decision makers have been listening to major corporations like Coca Cola Amatil and the stewards and packaging industry, who have been lobbying against the introduction of a CDS. While that continues legislative reform will be forever sidelined by endless studies and enquiries to make the public think something is being done.
NSW has two separate local government associations and there are plans to merge them. It’s a real a step forward that they are both now lobbying on behalf of local councils to bring about positive change in container and packaging legislation.
Ballina Shire councillor Jeff Johnson, Lennox Head