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A report commissioned by the Environment Department has highlighted the seriousness of Australia’s waste crisis and the inadequacy of government’s response, according to Shadow Assistant Environment Minister Josh Wilson.
“Global recycling market analysis prepared by consulting firm Sustainable Resource Use has warned the Federal Government that Australia may need to increase local recycling processing capability by 400 per cent,” Mr Wilson said.
“This comes at a time when the scale of plastic recycling in Australia is lower now than it was in 2005, and around the country plastic is being stockpiled, which presents a fire risk.”
According to Mr Wilson, the new analysis shows market demand for recycled materials such as paper and cardboard, plastics and glass remains volatile.
“This only highlights the need for serious action to dramatically increase Australia’s reprocessing capacity and the corresponding demand for such products,” he said.
The Federal Government is inviting applications for the newly established Australian Recycling Investment Fund.
According to Environment Minister Sussan Ley, the fund will support projects that increase recycling rates, turn waste into valuable products and encourage innovation.
“Australians want to be confident that when we put things in our recycling bin, or deliver them to a collection centre, that they will be recycled and not dumped in landfill or simply sent overseas. That is why we committed to the Australian Recycling Investment Fund at the 2019 election, and today we are delivering,” Ms Ley said.
“Last month’s Meeting of Environment Ministers set a clear message about our commitment to a circular economy and a timetable for banning problem waste exports. Growing our recycling capacity is critical in that process and this scale of investment will make a real difference.”
The fund will be managed by the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, with funding offered as concessional loans.
The announcement follows criticism from Labor Assistant Environment Spokesman Josh Wilson, who said the Federal Government was not doing enough to build on the national waste strategy.
“We know the so-called recycling investment plan is predominantly bulked out with prepackaged or repackaged funds,” Mr Wilson said.
“The hundred million dollars in the Australian Recycling Investment Fund consists of nothing more than a fresh label on existing clean energy finance moneys.”
Finance Minister Mathias Cormann said the Federal Government had provided a direction to the CEFC Board to ensure the establishment of the fund.
“The Australian Recycling Investment Fund will provide the CEFC with the capacity to support waste and recycling technologies by making investments which attract private sector support, and by working with strategic financing partners to attract additional investments into this sector,” Mr Cormann said.