The National Waste and Recycling Industry Council (NWRIC) is calling on ministers to set clear material definitions and realistic export timeframes at this Friday’s Council of Australian Government (COAG) meeting.
According to NWRIC CEO Rose Read, the Prime Minister and Premiers’ decisions on waste export bans will be key to determining Australia’s future capacity to capture and reuse the millions of tonnes of recycled materials currently being lost from the economy.
“The NWRIC supports COAG’s proposed export ban of waste plastics, paper, glass and tyres, and is calling on COAG to extend the ban to unprocessed cars, white goods, unprocessed e-waste and waste machine lubricant oils,” Ms Read said.
“However, COAG must not shut down legitimate overseas markets for secondary resources recovered from recycled materials such as clean paper and cardboard.”
Furthermore, Ms Read said COAG must address the real source of the waste export problem: the lack of recycled resources being used by the manufacturing, packaging and construction industries in Australia.
“This lack of reuse of recycled materials has significantly stymied industry investment and innovation in recycling capacity over the past 10 years,” she said.
“If Australian governments do not require the manufacturing, construction and packing sectors to dramatically ramp up recycled content in infrastructure, products and packaging, then it will not achieve its 80 per cent resource recovery target.”
The NWRIC is calling on COAG to agree and commit to:
— Clear definitions on what waste can’t be exported.
— Realistic timeframes that allow time to build new processing facilities and secondary resource markets to develop.
— Procuring recycled materials for government infrastructure and mandating recycled content in products and packaging through the Product Stewardship Act.
— Fast tracking development application and licensing processes for expanding and building new recycling and processing facilities.
— Joint investment from commonwealth and state governments with industry for new processing equipment and facilities.
— Strong enforcement of the ban, ensuring government agencies are adequately resourced to ensure compliance.
“If COAG gets this decision right and supports it with joint national and state investment, it will create the foundation necessary to move Australia to a country that values its waste as a resource, keeps these resources circulating in the economy, creating less waste and more jobs,” Ms Read said.