The Waste Management and Resource Recovery Association of Australia (WMRR) is calling on major political parties to commit to five policy priorities to transition Australia to a circular economy to ensure the nation moves to a net zero future.
In the lead-up to the 21 May 2022 federal election, Gayle Sloan, WMRR Chief Executive Officer, said the actions must be underpinned by a commitment to recurrent funding in the federal government.
Sloan said that Australia, as the second highest generator of waste in the world, has a responsibility and a significant challenge to shift the paradigm on material creation, consumption and management.
“WMRR advocates that Australia can transition to a circular economy and a net zero future and is asking parties to commit to five proposed election priorities – maximise carbon abatement through the waste and resource recovery (WARR) sector, mandatory Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR), sustainable design, sustainable procurement, and a concerted, whole-of-government approach to creating a circular economy,” she said.
“We are also seeking continued allocation of $200 million over the next five years to accelerate the investment in onshore remanufacturing facilities, which will be paid for in the long run through the creation of a genuine circular economy that will grow national GDP and boost job creation.
“WMRR recognises and appreciates the ongoing commitment to, and focus on, WARR over the last five years. It is now time to step up our action to move to a genuine circular economy so that we may future-proof our environment for generations to come, while building local industries and jobs for all Australians.”
Sloan said while Australia’s WARR sector has moved forward since 2018 when China’s National Sword policy put the industry in the national limelight, there is more that can be done to accelerate towards net zero and ensure Australia is not a dumping ground for products that will no longer be accepted by other nations.
“There is no argument that Australia, and the rest of the world, needs to be more resource efficient and an important step is to recognise that WARR is a shared responsibility that requires a multi-pronged approach across the supply chain to create recognition of the value of materials that are consumed, given the finite amount of materials the planet produces,” Sloan said.
“The missing piece in Australia’s material management story is that of product design. We continue to talk about the importance of a circular economy, which is one that eliminates waste and pollution at first instance, enables efficient processing and recycling of materials, as well as management at end-of-life, including meeting the costs associated with these. For us to get there, the federal government needs to take a long overdue stance on mandatory Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR), particularly for problematic and difficult to recycle materials, including or perhaps especially, packaging.
“Australia cannot afford to continue to fall behind our European and North American counterparts who have sustainable policies in place and are embarking on green deals to deliver them. If we do not make similar moves, we will risk being the dumping ground for poorly designed and hazardous materials.”
For WMRR’s five (5)-point federal action plan, visit: www.dropbox.com