The National Waste Recycling Industry Council (NWRIC) has raised concern’s over COAG’s proposed export ban, suggesting the regulatory measure will fail if not supported by markets for recovered plastics and paper.
NWRIC CEO Rose Read said the Meeting of Environment Minister’s (MEM) announcement is in urgent need of adjustment to ensure the timelines are realistic.
“Its intent is noteworthy, however its achievability is seriously constrained unless markets and infrastructure are established in parallel,” Ms Read said.
“Perverse impacts from the ban must be avoided as Australia seeks to address its waste and recycling challenges.”
According to Ms Read, NWRIC members are keen to work with all agencies and the packaging and manufacturing industry to support developing markets and regulatory shifts.
“However, we are very concerned that the regulatory focus is being crudely placed at the end-of-pipe and not at the source of the issue i.e. brands and producers,” Ms Read added.
“The proposed export bans have the potential to address Australia’s packaging waste and recycling challenges, but only if supported by appropriately targeted product stewardship regulation and effective government procurement policies that create new home markets for used packaging.”
Ms Read said it was also unrealistic to enforce export bans for plastics by July 2021 and paper by June 2022, when the packaging industry and manufacturers are only working to achieve 30 per cent recycled content and 100 per cent recyclable, reusable or compostable by 2025.
“Currently, there is no regulation requiring manufacturers or the packaging industry to achieve these targets or penalties if they don’t. This is far from being equitable,” Ms Read said.
Despite concerns, Ms Read said NWRIC welcomes the environment ministers commitment to further test the proposed export ban timetable with industry and local government prior to finalisation in early 2020.
“The NWRIC is calling on the federal environment minister to bring together a round table of industry leaders from the manufacturing, packaging, waste and resource recovery sectors, to commit to both minimum recycled content levels in plastic and paper packaging and scaling up reprocessing capacity within mutually agreed and realistic timeframes,” Ms Read said.
“If the environment ministers do not prioritise minimum recycled content levels in plastic and paper packaging, there will be no markets for recovered plastic and paper, stockpiles will grow increasing fire risk, resources will be sent to landfill, people may lose their jobs and currently viable businesses will cease.”
To read further industry responses to the export ban timeline click here.