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Funding plea to boost recycling
Ron Hoffman at the state-of-the-art DiCOM plant which takes household rubbish and turns it into compost. Picture: Michael Wilson/The West Australian

WA's main waste processing authorities have warned that more than $650 million has to be spent on new processing plants in the next 25 years to give the State Government any hope of improving a woeful recycling record.

Almost a year after the Government pledged to double recycling in Perth by 2020, a group of regional councils has released a report showing the daunting task authorities face.

The group, which processes waste for industry and about 1.6 million people in the metropolitan area, said without seven new waste treatment plants by 2038, the Government would have no chance of meeting the target.

It wants about $26 million a year set aside over the period to help fund measures, which could include waste plants that turn household rubbish into electricity.

Projects could include composting plants similar to but more advanced than the contentious Canning Vale plant.

Central to the group's push is a demand the Government redirect more money collected from the landfill levy to recycling initiatives such as the proposed processing plants.

The Government increased the levy 300 per cent in 2009 but hived off all the extra money into the Department of Environment and Conservation's general budget.

Under the levy's original design, all proceeds were tied to recycling initiatives.

Forum of Regional Councils chairman Ron Hoffman said the money the levy generated - about $40 million a year - could easily cover some, if not all, of the proposed plants.

Cr Hoffman said the money should be used to boost WA's recycling rate and lower the amount of rubbish going to tips, warning the State's re-use rate of just 30 per cent was untenable.

He said better planning was essential to ensure there were enough sites with proper buffers for waste processing facilities.

Adam Johnson, chief executive of a state-of-the-art composting plant in Shenton Park, said increasing the diversion and recycling rates made economic as well as environmental sense.

Although the plant he runs, which would eventually take about 55,000 tonnes of waste a year, was costlier than dumping at a tip, he said this would soon change.

Mr Johnson said this was because landfills in Perth were rapidly filling up.