Waste levy 'should fund recycling efforts'

Critics say the NSW government is not spending enough of its waste levy revenue on recycling.
Critics say the NSW government is not spending enough of its waste levy revenue on recycling.

Critics have attacked the NSW government for not spending enough of its waste levy revenue on recycling programs.

The state's recycling efforts were the focus of a Sydney summit on Sydney which heard from Environment Minister Gabrielle Upton, opposition spokeswoman Penny Sharpe, the Greens' Cate Faehrmann, local councillors and other key stakeholders.

"It's not good enough today that the NSW government, the environment minister, refuses to commit any extra funding (for) the waste crisis," Ms Faehrmann told reporters after the CBD summit.

AAP understands about one-third of revenue from the waste levy is currently spent on environmental programs with two-thirds going to consolidated revenue to be spent on health, education and infrastructure.

Local Government NSW wants 100 per cent of the money raised to go towards waste reduction programs and help boost recycling.

But Ms Upton argues such an approach is "simplistic" because the money is needed elsewhere.

"What are we going to cut across our community if we were to dedicate ... 100 per cent of the waste levy to waste and particularly recycling management," Ms Upton said at the summit.

Licensed waste facilities across NSW are required to pay a contribution for each tonne of waste received.

The contribution aims to reduce the amount of waste being landfilled and promote recycling.

The Labor opposition is yet to release its waste policy but is expecting to do so within the next week, AAP understands.

The Greens released their "zero waste" plan on Wednesday which also advocates 100 per cent of the waste levy being diverted into tackling the waste crisis.

The minor party would also like the levy to increase five per cent per annum and is pushing for a new independent resource recovery commissioner.

A recent Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation study suggests just over half of all recycled packaging is recovered nation-wide.

Australians last year generated 4.4 million tonnes of packaging waste, but only 68 per cent was put in recycling bins. Of that, just 56 per cent was recovered.

Australian Associated Press