In a recently released statement, the Waste Management and Resource Recovery Association of Australia (WMRR) argues that export ban intentions will not be met under current proposed timelines.
“Developing necessary infrastructure alone will take years – and if this lack of emphasis on, and intervention in, the rest of the supply chain continues, the concern is that the bans will very likely result in perverse outcomes, including increasing volumes of materials sent to landfill,” the statement reads.
According to the statement, while the association recognises the Federal Government is working hard to understand the reality of the Australian market ahead of the ban, it queries the purpose of “yet another report” that does not offer new economic analysis.
“While WMRR agrees with some of the observations made in the recently released Recycling market situation summary review, these are neither new nor surprising, and have been widely advocated by WMRR and industry over the years,” the statement reads.
“Also, while the association acknowledges the intent behind the research, it is important that we move beyond consultants reviewing the work of other consultants, and instead talk with those at the coalface – the operators of the waste and resource recovery industry who manage these materials daily and directly, and will directly bear the impact (cost and market access) of the ban.”
WMRR CEO Gayle Sloan said a lack of emphasis on product design by manufacturers in the lead up to the ban was disappointing.
“These are major barriers to the effective operating of the waste export bans and overall success of any circular economy. Urgent government action is required not just to ban, but to develop robust policy, regulation and funding frameworks that address these market failures and create demand for recycled materials in Australia,” Ms Sloan said.
“We need real funded solutions that close the loop.”
According to Ms Sloan, solutions include interventions by way of national standards for design and specifications, incentives, taxation reform, mandatory extended producer responsibility schemes and enforceable targets including the use of recycled material.
“Importantly, the Federal Government needs to take the lead by committing to procurement of recycled material now. Without these levers, there will continue to be a lack of market demand, which begs the question, where do you think materials will end up,” she said.
Ms Sloan added that now is not the time to start adding low value material such as soft plastics to yellow recycling bins.
“Rather, we need to standardise nationally what can go in the yellow bin, and if producers wish to produce packaging outside of this standard and accepted suite, they need to meet the costs of collecting and recycling those materials,” Ms Sloan said.
“That said, now is absolutely the time to have an open conversation about who should be funding these systems, as we cannot continue to expect councils and householders to continue to go it alone; those who produce these materials must be required to contribute as they already do overseas.”