NWRIC releases statement in support of Labor waste policy

The National Waste Recycling Industry Council (NWRIC) has released a statement in support of Opposition Leader Bill Shorten’s proposed waste and recycling policy.

Labor’s proposal sets out a number of priorities to enhance waste and recycling services, six of which have been highlighted by NWRIC.

NWRIC praised Labor’s commitment to a national container deposit scheme, which includes inviting, but not mandating Victoria and Tasmania become part of an integrated national scheme.

Victoria and Tasmania are currently the only states without a state run container despot scheme in place.

The announcement of a National Waste Commissioner, funded with $15 million over six years, and the expansion of product stewardship schemes to include more e-waste, batteries and white goods were similarly praised.

The council also highlighted the proposed $60 million investment in a National Recycling Fund, and the setting of targets for government purchasing of recycled goods.

NWRIC also cited Labor’s commitment to provide an additional $10 billion in capital for the Clean Energy Finance Corporation over five years.

NWRIC’s statement said the proposal follows Labor’s national policy platform commitment to capture the economic opportunities of a harmonised and strategic national waste reduction and recycling policy, including appropriate energy recovery technologies.

Labor’s policy also commits to establishing a federal EPA and a new Australian Environment Act to replace the current Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.

Mr Shorten said the new act will aim to tackle inefficiencies, delays and hurdles in the current law, giving business more certainty while protecting the environment.

Presently there are eight different sets of laws and regulations governing waste management and recycling across Australia’s states and territories.

NWRIC CEO Rose Read said every household and business in Australia purchases waste services, and most purchase recycling services.

“The Commonwealth can cut costs for all Australians by creating national, high quality regulations covering waste and recycling,” Ms Read said

“NWRIC is calling for a bi-partisan approach to harmonising the regulations protecting our industry.”

Despite welcoming the policy, Ms Read said NWRIC is concerned about Labor’s proposed roll back of the Emissions Reduction Fund.

“Through the Emissions Reduction Fund, a number of leading recycling initiatives have been funded, including returning composting to soils and harvesting renewable energy from biogas,” Ms Read said.

“Waste and recycling services are essential to all Australians. Therefore, it is critical that whichever party wins the upcoming Federal election – they work proactively with industry to create jobs, serve communities, protect workers and reduce pollution.”

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ACOR backs Labor’s waste minimisation policy

Labor’s proposed $290 million waste minimisation policy has received support from the Australian Council of Recycling (ACOR).

ACOR CEO Pete Shmigel said the proposal was a bold boost for recycling and remanufacturing in Australia.

The policy calls for a national ban on single use-plastic bags and microbeads from 2021 and outlines the creation of a National Container Deposit Scheme.

Labor leader Bill Shorten said he will consult with states, territories and industry on how to best implement the proposals.

“This will create a consistent approach across the country – following moves of many state and territories to phase out single-use plastic bags, as well as manufacturers phasing out microbeads,” Mr Shorten said.

Mr Shorten also announced the establishment of a National Waste Commissioner, a $60 million National Recycling Fund and a $15 million investment to assist nearby counties clean up the pacific ocean.

Mr Shmigel said independent modelling commissioned by ACOR shows Labor’s policy has the potential to divert millions of tonnes from landfill to recycling, create 300 new jobs in regional Australia and reduce greenhouse gases.

“The initiative will lift Australia from its 17th position in the world in terms of recycling rates and let us grow the sector from the current 50,000 jobs.”

Mr Shmigel said the policy’s direct investment in infrastructure to decontaminate recycling, building of home-grown markets and expedition of product stewardship schemes were particularly significant.

“It speaks to the 88 per cent of Australians who told a recent survey they want a more pro-active recycling policy,” Mr Shmigel said.

Director of the Boomerang Alliance Jeff Angel said the policy doesn’t go far enough however, stressing the need for ‘buy recycled’ tax incentives and mandatory rules for recycled content in products.

‘’An important piece of the puzzle is mandatory rules for recycled content in products. This needs to extend beyond government to the private sector. It’s the only way to cement reprocessing of waste into the economy and save resources and the environment. Anything less is fiddling at the edges.

‘’The introduction of a plastic pollution reduction strategy to set a future direction to reduce single use plastics wasted or littered should have been included,” Mr Angel said.

“The public and many industry sectors recognise that packaging is a significant problem, but the problem includes all single use and disposable plastic waste.’’

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