South Australian government looks into waste management

The South Australian government has launched an inquiry to investigate and report on whether a crisis in waste management exists in the state due to, or in part to, China's National Sword Policy.

China's policy banned 24 types of solid waste, including various plastics, unsorted mixed papers and waste textile materials to set a higher standard (a rate of 0.5 per cent or less) for contamination levels, which is where the material is dirty or contains other materials incorrectly mixed in with it.

The policy follows on from the country's 10-month Green Fence policy five years earlier that prohibited importing unwashed or contaminated recyclables.

According to the state's Environment Protection Authority 87 per cent of all recovered material was reprocessed within SA, eight per cent was processed interstate and only five per cent was exported overseas.

Member for Hammond Adrian Pederick will chair the Environment, Resources and Development Committee to investigate how China's decision in January 2018 has affected the industry in the state.

He said the state's waste management and resource recovery industry was worth more than $500 million and provided about 4800 jobs.

"We want to look at what might be needed to maximize future opportunities as a result of these global changes for the benefit of all South Australians," he said.

"The committee wants to hear from South Australians who have been positively or negatively impacted upon by China's decision to reduce the amount of contaminated recyclables it currently imports."

The inquiry will also investigate whether the state or local government response has been enough to support the sector since the changes.

Before the policy China was taking in 55 per cent of the world's scrap paper and was a major destination for other recyclables.

Inquiry submissions are open until July 19 at the committee's website www.parliament.sa.gov.au/erdc.