$190m "bonza" boost to recycling industry

Monday, 06 July, 2020

$190m "bonza" boost to recycling industry

The Australian Government will invest $190 million in resource recovery infrastructure to transform the nation’s waste and recycling capacity — a huge milestone for recycling, according to the Australian Council of Recycling (ACOR), the national peak body for the $1.5 billion industry that employs 50,000 Australians.

The Recycling Modernisation Fund (RMF) is set to generate $600 million of recycling investment from federal, state and industry stakeholders. More than 10,000 jobs will be created, with over 10 million tonnes of waste diverted from landfill for making useful products.

ACOR CEO Pete Shmigel said the environmental and employment benefits of recycling will be turbocharged by the RMF commitments.

“This bonza and unprecedented investment will transform Australian recycling and help make it domestically sustainable. RMF builds on our industry’s own innovation and investment in making more recycled content products and generating high-vis regional jobs right here in Australia,” he said.

“Full marks to Ministers, especially Commonwealth Ministers, in going where recycling policy has not gone before: real recognition of recycling’s benefits, real coordination, real money and now real results,” Shmigel said.

The RMF will support innovative investment in new infrastructure to sort, process and remanufacture materials such as mixed plastic, paper, tyres and glass, with Commonwealth funding contingent on co-funding from industry, states and territories.

The waste and recycling transformation is being further strengthened by an additional:

  • $35 million to implement Commonwealth commitments under Australia’s National Waste Policy Action Plan, which sets the direction for waste management and recycling in Australia until 2030.
  • $24.6 million on Commonwealth commitments to improve our national waste data so it can measure recycling outcomes and track progress against our national waste targets.
  • The introduction of new Commonwealth waste legislation to formally enact the government’s waste export ban and encourage companies to take greater responsibility for the waste they generate, from product design through to recycling, remanufacture or disposal (product stewardship).

The moves are part of a national strategy to change the way Australia looks at waste, grows our economy, protects our environment and reaches a national resource recovery target of 80% by 2030.

“As we cease shipping our waste overseas, the waste and recycling transformation will reshape our domestic waste industry, driving job creation and putting valuable materials back into the economy,” Minister for the Environment Sussan Ley said.

“Australians need to have faith that the items they place in their kerbside recycling bins will be re-used in roads, carpet, building materials and a range of other essential items.

“At the same time, we need to stop throwing away tonnes of electronic waste and batteries each year and develop new ways to recycle valuable resources.

“As we pursue National Waste Policy Action Plan targets, we need manufacturers and industry to take a genuine stewardship role that helps create a sustainable circular economy.

“This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to remodel waste management, reduce pressure on our environment and create economic opportunity,” Ley said.

Assistant Minister for Waste Reduction and Environmental Management Trevor Evans said that the unparalleled expansion of Australia’s recycling capacity followed close consultation with industry.

“Our targeted investment will grow Australia’s circular economy, create more jobs and build a stronger onshore recycling industry,” Assistant Minister Evans said.

“Australian companies are turning plastics and household waste into furniture, decking, fencing and clothing, and we are developing new domestic markets for recycled materials by setting national standards for recycled content in roads and making recycled products a focus of procurement for infrastructure, defence estate management and general government purchasing.

“Our targeted investment will grow Australia’s circular economy, create more jobs and build a stronger onshore recycling industry.

“Companies are already moving with The Pact Group announcing a $500 million investment in facilities, research and technology; Coca-Cola Amatil committing to new recycling targets; and Pact, Cleanaway and Asahi Beverages establishing a $30 million recycling facility in Albury.”

The unparalleled expansion of Australia’s recycling capacity follows the 2019 National Waste Policy Action Plan, Australia’s government ban on exports of waste plastic, paper, glass and tyres, and this year’s first ever National Plastics Summit.

According to Shmigel, “The next key step for the transformation of Australian recycling — and to meet Australians’ expectation that their efforts stack up — is ‘buying recycled’ by governments, corporations and the community.

“More recycling factories only make sense when there is demand for their recycled-content products, such roads and packaging,” he said.

“Lighthouse projects using recycled content materials are needed so that the community can see the positive results of their ongoing participation.

“With ambitious National Waste Policy targets only four years away, it’s time governments further put money — such as from $1.5 billion collected from the community in landfill levies — where their mouths are in that respect too,” Shmigel said.

Image credit: ©stock.adobe.com/au/jpgon

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