For COAG’s export bans to be a success, harmonisation of Australia’s regulatory framework is key. Jim Fairweather, ResourceCo CEO, explains.
As a global leader in the recovery and re-manufacturing of primary resources, ResourceCo is encouraging governments to be bold in embracing harmonisation of policy and procurement targets to ensure the success of COAG’s upcoming export bans.
The first of the bans is set to come into effect 1 January 2021, starting with unprocessed glass, and then followed by mixed plastics, whole used tyres, single resin polymer plastics and finishing with mixed and unsorted paper and cardboard in July 2024.
The waste and resource recovery industry has strongly argued the bans, while welcomed, won’t work on their own and that genuine market development and product stewardship is required.
Speaking at the Waste Management and Resource Recovery Association of Australia’s (WMRR) recent Buy Recycled Expo SA, Jim Fairweather, ResourceCo CEO, said harmonisation of the regulatory framework around Australia is key to ensuring the bans success.
“If we want to create a genuine national market for recycled materials, we need to get much closer to achieving consistency in policy settings across states for the long term,” he said.
“There also needs to be surety of the waste levy structures to drive confidence in investment decisions.”
Fairweather added that the resource recovery sector could play a significant role, post COVID-19, in helping to stimulate the economy through local processing and remanufacturing, but that requires a modern regulatory framework.
“There is a genuine opportunity to create end markets for Australian recycled materials if governments commit to mandating the procurement of those materials across all government projects,” he said.
“Sustainable government procurement will be the key driver of the industry. That is the biggest thing. In the short term, government should look at individual projects and the inclusion of recycled resources and grow from there.”
Fairweather accepted that the sector also had its role to play in increasing awareness of innovation and the quality of products already available.
“The recycling industry has been exceptionally good at getting things done. What we have been poor at is creating the right awareness and understanding of what we do. There is much to be done in this space,” he said.
WMRR, a peak national body for the $15 billion waste and resource recovery industry, focused its inaugural Buy Recycled Expo SA on demystifying the industry, creating awareness and highlighting the real challenges.
“South Australia has long been a leader in many areas of recycling, resource recovery and waste management. It’s motivated and nimble enough to make big changes and decisions quickly to ensure success,” Gayle Sloan, WMRR CEO said.
“As an industry we need have a common narrative about the value we create and the planet we are saving. Having a value conversation about what we do is important. It’s about providing an essential service to the community, while delivering better environmental outcomes, creating Australian jobs and sustaining local economies.”
The Federal Government recently reaffirmed its commitment to growing the domestic waste and resource recovery industry with $249 million committed over four years to modernising Australia’s recycling infrastructure.
However, while much has been said about updating procurement rules to enable public servants to more easily identify, select and decide on procurements that use recycled content materials going forward, the detail is yet to be landed.
“Given the post COVID focus on infrastructure projects, there is an opportunity for all governments to bring forward the use of more recycled content in an accelerated effort to ensure sustainable procurement,” Fairweather said.
Sloan agreed that time is of the essence in developing frameworks that will support the establishment of viable onshore reprocessing, remanufacturing and end markets for recycled products.
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