A BENDIGO minor party candidate believes waste-to-energy could be used to solve the state’s waste and power problems, but locals Greens say the facilities emit toxic chemicals and are “four times more polluting than coal”.
Helen Leach, running as the Democratic Labour Party candidate for Bendigo East, said recyclable waste was being stored in warehouses in Melbourne after China stopped accepting it and councils sought to avoid an Environment Protection Authority levy.
She said waste-to-energy plants – which incinerates waste to produce heat or electricity – should be considered for regional areas in Victoria’s east and west.
“As the population increases steadily and since China said no to dealing with our so called recyclables, it has become more difficult to dispose, recycle or reuse the thousands of tonnes of household and industrial waste,” Ms Leach said.
“The Democratic Labour Party seeks to ease tax burdens on families and businesses and supports a waste to energy solution: high intensity incineration of residual waste turned into power – around the clock.
“Western Australia is in the process of building one: why not Victoria?”
Waste issues in Bendigo are expected to be debated in the coming years with the closure of Eaglehawk landfill slated by the state government for 2021. The City of Greater Bendigo is currently investigating its options.
Federal Environment Minister Josh Frydenberg is a supporter of waste-to-energy and more than 30 of the projects are under way in Australia.
Nakita Thomson, the Greens candidate for Bendigo East, said waste-to-energy had been shown to be unclean overseas and Australia needed to reject adding further polluting industries.
“The toxic chemicals that also come out of that, not just the greenhouse gases, can be very damaging to people’s health. They can cause respiratory problems,” she said.
“I don’t trust any waste-to-energy company that says it’s going to be clean, because the statistics and the research has proven that it’s not.
“As a planning student I can’t imagine any person that would want to live near a waste-to-energy facility. As an environmentalist, I know that waste-to-energy is four times more polluting than coal, and we shouldn’t be transitioning from one fossil fuel to another.”
The Greens have called for a container deposit scheme for Victoria, a ban on excess packaging and single use plastic, and proposed a $5 million independent body to guide companies in creating compostable packaging to reduce the amount of waste produced.
The City of Greater Bendigo introduced organic waste collection in 2016, which could be extended to businesses in the CBD. It has also joined calls from Victorian local governments for the state government to provide funding to councils to solve their waste issues.
Have you signed up to the Bendigo Advertiser's daily newsletter and breaking news emails? You can register below and make sure you are up to date with everything that's happening in central Victoria.