QLD last to commit to recycling infrastructure investment

Queensland is the only state yet to announce how it proposes to match and invest the Federal Government’s Recycling Modernisation Fund (RMF) commitment to upgrade and expand glass, plastic and tyre recycling infrastructure.

National Waste and Recycling Industry Council (NWRIC) CEO Rose Read said the RMF represents a $190 million commitment to co-invest in critical recycling infrastructure with state and territory governments and industry on a 1:1:1 basis, as a response to the COAG Waste Export ban agreed in March 2020.

The first of the COAG waste export bans came into effect at the start of this year for waste glass.

This will soon be followed a ban of waste mixed plastic exports from 1 July and waste tyres from 1 December.

By July 2024 when the waste mixed paper export ban is introduced, Australia needs to be recycling around 650,000 additional tonnes of waste plastic, paper, glass and tyres each year.

Read said it was disappointing that Queensland had not yet confirmed its funding commitment when every other state and territory had begun utilising the fund.

“This is no time for Queensland to be complacent,” she said.

According to the National Waste Report 2020, Queensland’s resource recovery rate was 48.7 per cent in 2018-19, well below the national average of 63 per cent for the same period.

“Queensland makes up about 17.8 per cent (11 million tonnes) of Australia’s waste generation (62 million tonnes nationally), but is sending more than 26.8 per cent (5.9 million tonnes) of the 22 million tonne total going to landfill,” Read said.

“It is hard to see how Queensland will meet its own waste strategy targets, which includes a 20-point increase in overall waste diverted from landfill to 65 per cent in 2025 without urgently ramping up its resource recovery rates.

“It’s critical Queensland confirm its commitment as soon as possible so together with industry we can rapidly scale up its paper, plastic, glass and tyre recycling capacity and close the gap on the 2030 national 80 per cent resource recovery target.”

Read added that every other state had begun utilising the fund, including:

• ACT: $21 million project funded through the RMF that will see the ACT Material Recovery Facility upgraded. The upgrades will allow better separation and processing of recycling streams such as paper, glass and plastic, reduce contamination rates and provide the facility with better quality recycled material to sell to market.

• Tasmania: $16 million grants program announced, with the Federal Government providing $5.5 million over the next four years, matched by the Tasmanian government and industry.

• NSW: ‘Remanufacture NSW’ set up with total funding of up to $35 million on offer to support the resource recovery sector in addressing the waste export ban materials of plastic, paper, glass and tyre through either infrastructure projects or innovative trials projects.

• Victoria: $46 million co-investment in recycling infrastructure announced, including $8.1 million in first round funding for seven glass and plastics projects across Victoria to more than double Victoria’s glass recycling and boost its plastics recycling by almost 40 per cent.

• Western Australia: Funding of new plastics and tyre processing infrastructure, with the Federal Government contributing $20 million and $15 million in state government funding across eight new projects and another $5 million for projects in industrial zoned land in the future. Another $15 million from the RMF and $15 million from the state government will go towards a new $86.6 million Suez Recycling and Recovery/Auswaste pulp mill in Perth.

• South Australia: The Federal and South Australian Governments have each committed $15 million to increase the state’s recycling and remanufacturing for plastic, glass and tyres. South Australia’s fund will focus on recycling opportunities and partner projects that investigate new technology and equipment related to mixed plastics reprocessing, improving the recovery and separation of soft plastics and increasing glass re-manufacturing.

“It is encouraging to see all these jurisdictions making a commitment and engaging with industry to build the infrastructure that will sort, process and return these secondary raw materials back into the economy, diverting them from landfill as well as creating jobs,” Read said.

“Now all we need is for Queensland to put its hand up and start rolling out the funds, the clock is ticking.”

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