The National Waste & Recycling Industry Council (NWRIC) is calling on the Council of Australia Governments (COAG) to ensure clean, high grade paper and cardboard are exempt from waste export bans.
According to NWRIC CEO Rose Read, while industry supports banning waste glass, whole baled tyres, mixed plastic and mixed paper exports, the NWRIC does not support banning clean paper and cardboard exports.
“Australia currently exports close to 1.1 million tonnes of clean, high grade paper and cardboard every year, approximately one third of the material we use. This export market is estimated to be worth more than $230 million,” Ms Read said.
“Without the capacity to export clean paper and cardboard, recycling services could fail, including household kerbside collections.”
Ms Read added that Australia does not currently have the capacity to locally remanufacture all the paper and cardboard it generates.
“Australia’s domestic paper mills that process recycled paper are in Victoria, NSW and Queensland. These mills do not currently have sufficient capacity to take all of the recycled paper and cardboard generated on the east coast. Let alone that generated in SA, NT and WA, who rely on overseas markets,” she said.
“Recycled paper is only purchased by a small number of reprocessors, limiting competition.”
The NWRIC is inviting COAG to work with the waste and resource recovery industry to develop national scrap specifications for metals, plastics, paper, cardboard, e-waste and other recycled materials.
“These would give the waste management and recycling sector clarity and certainty on what can be exported, and manufacturers confidence in the recovered material being supplied,” Ms Read said.