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Waste industry has stepped up: Evans

waste strategy summit

About $1 billion of new recycling infrastructure is being built in Australia as new waste laws “turbocharge” the nation’s approach to managing its waste and recycling, according to Trevor Evans, Assistant Minister for Waste Reduction and Environmental Management.

Speaking online at the Waste Strategy Summit 2022, which opened at Crowne Plaza Sydney Darling Harbour on 9 February, Evans said Australia’s waste industry has “stepped up and delivered” in response to the Recycling and Waste Reduction Act 2020.

He said Australian Government investments in the Recycling Modernisation Fund (RMF) and the Modern Manufacturing Initiative (MMI) had so far incentivised the building or expansion of 86 recycling facilities around the country.

“Right now, here in Australia, about $1 billion of new recycling infrastructure is being built which will help position Australia not just to take charge of more of our own waste and build a circular economy, but potentially play a leadership role in the global circular economy as it develops,” Evans said.

“Industry was very ready to make these investments and, given the confidence they could take from new laws, have stepped up and delivered. Industry is way more than matching the dollar for dollar being provided by governments.

“A big thank you to Australia’s recyclers for stepping up and being ready. They’re not just ensuring we have more recycling capacity, but that Australia can adopt and use world-leading technology in the way we go about recycling.”

Evans said of the 86 projects under way in Australia, 53 are for plastics recycling and have the capacity to handle more than 1.4 tonnes of plastic waste each year. Another 25 glass recycling projects have the capacity to handle 1.2 million tonnes of waste. Ten projects are dedicated to tyre processing and recycling and 13 projects to paper and cardboard recycling.

Evans said the MMI ensures Australia has a competitive advantage to bring manufacturing back to Australia.

He said a significant new approach to stewardship had also invested about $15 million and expanded 21 national stewardship schemes including mobile muster for mobile phones, food packaging and its recovery, household batteries and agricultural plastics.

“We estimate the product stewardship scheme alone will divert over 1.6 million tonnes from landfill while supporting thousands of jobs,” Evans said. “Stewardship has a very big role to play as Australia strives to achieve the big targets we set.”

Evans said the policies and funding had already made a real difference in the way Australia dealt with its waste and the rapid pace of reform had been maintained through the challenges of COVID-19.

“The reform journey will continue to happen because the benefits are so clear,” he said. “This is not just about the environment this is also about a stronger and more resilient Australian economy. It’s definitely a win, win, win.”

The fourth annual Waste Strategy Summit, postponed from 2021, was held as a hybrid face-to-face and online summit.

Julie Morgan, Chair and Executive Director Environment & Sustainability Transport for NSW said it was great to see events held in person again.

She said the summit promised a “big and exciting” agenda. Day one looked at the challenge of soft plastics in Australia, best practice strategies to reduce the use of landfill in disposing of waste products and filling the knowledge gaps in the circular economy.

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