The Greens have launched a policy platform to address the recycling crisis ahead of Friday’s meeting of environment ministers.
Waste & Recycling and Healthy Oceans portfolio holder Senator Peter Whish-Wilson said the system is failing and the industry is in crisis. He said the Greens are calling on the federal government to adopt the plan.
“This problem has been a long time coming and the Chinese restriction on importing waste has tipped it over the edge. Big packaging companies have avoided responsibility,” Mr Whish-Wilson said.
“Industry is crying out for national leadership. There needs to be a comprehensive federal government plan to solve the crisis. We can either turn towards opportunity or turn towards a meltdown in kerbside recycling. This policy is a blueprint to seize that opportunity.”
Mr Whish-Wilson said China’s restriction on importing our recycling waste is an opportunity to reboot Australia’s recycling industry with an approach that is good for jobs and the environment.
“With a bit of help, industry can retool to use that plastic and paper waste that once went to China, here in Australia. And we can build a substantive manufacturing sector providing more environmentally sustainable products.”
The Greens plan to reboot recycling involves:
- Investing $500 million over five years into infrastructure and programs to improve the quality of recycling. This will administered by the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) and will require matching funding, dollar-for-dollar, from state governments.
- Introduce mandatory product stewardship schemes, including a national container deposit scheme.
- Distributing $10 million in grants to community groups and social enterprises to run high quality reuse and recycling centres.
- Establish mandatory targets for the procurement of recycled material at all levels of government.
- Recommit to and reinvigorate the National Waste Policy.
The Greens also released a plan to tackle marine pollution with the following strategy:
- Work towards a phase-out of single use plastics.
- Introduce an immediate national ban on microbeads and single-use plastic bags.
- Allocate $50 million to establish a Plastic Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) to help clean up our oceans and improve plastic recycling.