Carbon emission reduction and waste management should start at the local level. Local councils play an essential role in Australia’s Net Zero 2050 goal. The good news is that more than half of the country’s local governments are already taking steps to manage their emissions.
ClimateWorks Australia’s Program Manager, Petra Stock, said, “Council commitments to reduce operational emissions are important.“ Local Councils rank among Australia’s most important infrastructure owners and managers, with collective responsibility for over $380 billion in infrastructure and land.
Decisions made by Councils matter because their communities will follow and learn to adapt to climate change to build resilience against its impacts. These bold actions to reduce emissions should also be applied to waste management, which is one of the neglected areas of emission reduction goals.
Waste management falls under Operational Emissions, which is connected to activities controlled by Local Councils. Although carbon emissions from LGA operations contribute a small percentage of its total emissions, reducing it to zero should be a Council’s goal.
Local councils, across the board, have made commitments to Net-Zero. However, they still need to come up with comprehensive plans to achieve it.
— Petra Stock, Program Manager, ClimateWorks Australia
Australian government’s emphasis and focus towards waste management was also evident in the 2022-2023 Federal Budget. In the National Budget that was announced on March 29, 2022, it was mentioned that, in addition to the $388.6 million already committed to reducing waste, the Government is investing a further $83.1 million in Australia’s waste and recycling capabilities. In this regard, the local governments will have a crucial role in executing the initiatives with regard to waste and recycling.
Local Councils and Waste Management
A Local Council provides waste disposal and recycling services for their respective areas. In addition, they regulate waste disposal within their municipality. Given the amount of waste generated by their communities, it should be systematically managed to ensure that the environment and public health are protected.
Aside from basic waste services, LGAs are also responsible for educating the community about the environmental impacts of improper waste disposal. Educating the community about responsible waste management is relevant to a Council’s waste management programme.
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Reducing LGA GHG Emissions via Waste Management
Local Councils, such as New South Wales (NSW), are targeting landfills to achieve their Net Zero goals. According to their Net Zero Plan Stage One: 2020-2030, NSW plans to have zero organics in their landfills in less than a decade. The published report states, “40% of red-lidded kerbside bins were composed of organic waste. This type of waste, when sent to landfills, decompose anaerobically, and emits methane gas.”
Methane from human actions contributes at least 25% of today’s warming. A key reason for this is that Methane has over 80 times the warming power of carbon dioxide over the first 20 years. It is the main reason why local councils in Australia want to stop sending organic materials to landfills.
Although carbon dioxide can last for centuries in our atmosphere, methane gas has a huge effect in the short term. According to former IPCC Chair Robert Watson, “Methane is responsible for 75% as much warming as carbon dioxide measured over any given 20 years.”
Watson also believes that short-term reductions, focusing on methane gas, require lesser investment and have an immediate impact on the environment. Instead of waiting for a century for global temperatures to cool down, it will only take a decade if methane emissions are controlled.
Where there are technologies that can reduce both our emissions and costs for households and businesses, we want to roll them out across the state.
— Matt Kean, NSW Minister for Energy and Environment
Local Councils Leverage Waste Management to Meet Their Net Zero Goals
There are many ways Councils can manage their waste and one of these is through technology. Matt Kean, NSW’s Environment Minister, believes that technology plays a huge role in managing waste. Kean also said, “Where these technologies are not yet commercial, we want to invest in their development so they will be available in the decades to come.”
The NSW government sees an $11.6 billion investment from the private sector, which is also seen as a generator of new jobs. Kick-starting our country’s economy could start from jobs related to waste management, and local councils can benefit from it.
Aside from expecting it to generate thousands of jobs, Kean also outlined the key priorities of the State’s program: invest in future emissions reduction technologies and empower both consumers and businesses to make sustainable choices.
Kean also believes that waste management should be based on economics and science. These will help local entrepreneurs and workers the opportunity to grow and adjust in a low-carbon economy.
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3E Group and its Role in Helping LGAs with Their Net Zero Goals
Given 3E Group’s experience with assisting local councils with their sustainability goals, we are one with the government in helping LGAs with their Net Zero targets. We understand how good planning and modern technology can help Councils manage their waste properly. Our holistic approach to developing plans and utilising technologies to manage waste is one of our core strengths. Effective waste management is an essential key in building an efficient Emissions Reduction Solutions (ERS).
Connect with 3E Group and gain access to its Net Zero experts by Booking a Free 30 Minute Consultation or call us at 1300 55 77 64 today!