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South Australian councils commit to buying back their own rubbish

Nine South Australian councils have signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to prioritise the use of recycled materials in their procurement processes.

The MOU, signed on Wednesday will promote the development of the circular economy in the state by driving demand for locally recycled materials and ultimately reducing the cost of waste and recycling for councils.

The signatory councils were Adelaide Hills Council, City of Burnside, City of Charles Sturt, Mount Barker District Council, Rural City of Murray Bridge, City of Norwood Payneham and St Peters, City of Onkaparinga, City of Port Adelaide Enfield and City of Prospect.

Its signing marked the first step in a circular procurement pilot project led by the Local Government Association of South Australia (LGA) which attracted a $96,500 grant from the South Australian State Government’s Green Industries SA office.

In signing, councils agreed to support the development of new markets for recycling in the state, LGA’s president mayor, Sam Telfer, said in a statement.

“This MOU sends a clear message to industry about the types of products that councils want to purchase as part of their commitment to supporting the environment and improving their sustainability,” he said.

Through the MOU the councils have also committed to tracking and reporting the weight of the purchased recycled content. Most also adopted a rolling target for buying recycled plastic products, with the goal of eventually collecting twice as much plastic in their council areas as they are buying back.

“This project will help drive local demand for recycled materials, supporting local reprocessing and remanufacturing opportunities here in South Australia,” the Hon David Speirs, minister for environment and water, said.

This is particularly important in the wake of China launching its National Sword Policy, which has made waste and recycling significantly more expensive for local councils in general.

“Exciting projects like this help us become more self-sufficient, create circular economies and reduce our reliance on recycling companies, delivering major benefits to the environment and local economy,” Erin Thompson, mayor of the City of Onkaparinga, added.

The MOU was signed at the Kilburn-based factory of Advanced Plastic Recycling, a leading designer and manufacturer of 100 per cent post-consumer products manufacturer. The company diverts thousands of tonnes of plastic and wood from landfill each year by converting the materials collected at roadsides into products such as bollards, boardwalks and fencing.

Chief executive, Ryan Lokan, said the greatest benefit of the project would likely be its impact on driving innovation. 

“Demand drives innovation,” he said, “and it is companies like APR that will rise to the challenge to meet the requirements for recycled materials.”

In addition to the products created by the company, councils can also purchase products such as road and construction materials, street furniture, bollards, office stationery and compost created from post-consumer recycled materials.

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