Published on 19 August 2020

Circular success

Nine SA councils, including Onkaparinga, have bought over 17,000 tonnes of recycled materials in the first six months of a pilot project aimed at supporting the development of a circular economy in South Australia.

The nine councils, led by the Local Government Association (LGA), signed a Memorandum of Understanding in September last year with funding provided through a Green Industries SA grant, committing them to prioritising recycled content through their procurement processes.

Since tracking purchases from January, the councils have:

  • identified over 150 suppliers of recycled-content products and materials available in SA;
  • Made more than 450 individual purchases of these products;
  • Bought over 17,000 tonnes (or 13,000 cars worth!) of recycled materials;
  • Bought 106 tonnes of recycled plastic (the equivalent of 17,000 households’ milk bottles for a year!).

Looking further back, City of Onkaparinga purchased over 7900 tonnes of recycled materials in 2019-20, including:

  • 44 tonnes of recycled plastic in new kerbside bins for residents, road reseals, street furniture, decking, bollards and signs;
  • 43 tonnes of recycled glass in asphalt for road reseals;
  • 11 tonnes of recycled tyres for road reseals, spray seals and playground surfaces;
  • 11 tonnes of recycled toner in asphalt for road reseals;
  • 7800 tonnes of recycled asphalt for road reseals and rural road resurfacing.

Popular sites where recycled materials were used include the new Wilfred Taylor Reserve nature playspaceDinton Farm Dog ParkBirman Crescent playground at Flagstaff Hill and the Sellicks Beach shelter, as well as in roads across the city.

City of Onkaparinga Mayor Erin Thompson said the six-month circular procurement figures were a pleasing result, demonstrating the way councils are working together to find long-term solutions to the state’s recycling challenges.

“Projects such as this not only help us achieve City of Onkaparinga’s key focus on being a leader in the transition from recycling to a circular economy, they show councils across SA are committed to developing local markets for products made from recycled materials,” Mayor Thompson said.

“The procurement figures also follow the recent announcement that Holdfast Bay, Marion and Onkaparinga councils will build a new material recycling facility in the south in 2021 through our joint subsidiary, the Southern Region Waste Resource Authority, delivering more major benefits to the environment and local economy.”

LGA President Sam Telfer said councils had experienced huge increases in waste costs since China and other countries stopped accepting Australian waste.

“Due to changes in the global market, and increases to the State Government’s solid waste levy, SA councils will pay around $29 million more in waste costs this year,” he said.

“All around Australia, governments and industry are working hard to develop local markets and on-shore processing for recyclable materials and establish a truly circular economy.

“The National Waste Policy Action Plan requires governments at all levels to ‘devise specific procurement targets’, but this project represents one of the first attempts nationwide to make good on this commitment.

“Reducing our reliance on overseas markets and establishing local demand is a significant change that will take time to achieve, but it’s a great opportunity to make our economy more sustainable.

“Ultimately, creating markets for yellow bin materials by buying recycled is the only way to bring these waste costs down for our communities”.

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Scenes from the new beach shelter at Sellicks Beach, where recycled plastic was used for the decking. Photos: Terrain Group