Key projects take action on waste recovery plans

Tuesday, 27 July, 2021

Key projects take action on waste recovery plans

Leading recycling and resource recovery organisations — the National Waste and Recycling Industry Council (NWRIC) and Australian Council of Recycling (ACOR) — have joined forces with the Australian Government to improve the nation’s resource recovery standards and procedures to help reduce the amount of material going to landfill.

With funding from the Department of Agriculture, Water and Environment (DAWE), NWRIC and ACOR will each deliver a project aligned to key targets in the National Waste Policy Action Plan to reduce total waste generated in Australia by 10% per person by 2030, increase the resource recovery rate to 80% by 2030, and significantly increase the use of recycled content by governments and industry.

As part of the initiative, NWRIC will develop an up-to-date set of national performance standards for material recovery facilities (including sorting, primary and secondary processors).

NWRIC CEO Rose Read said specifications for plastics, paper, glass, metals and organics coming through the municipal solid waste collection stream will be developed in consultation with end users such as manufacturers, construction and farmers, and the recycling sector.

“The specifications will assist Australian recyclers [to] meet market demands for recovered materials locally and overseas and improve the quality of recovered materials as tradeable commodities.

“Through the project we are also looking to stimulate domestic reuse of recovered materials by improving market information, which leads to greater confidence in the quality of recovered materials,” Read said.

ACOR will be developing a national accreditation or certification scheme for Australian recyclers to support resource recovery and focus on the circular economy.

ACOR CEO Suzanne Toumbourou said ACOR would be delivering a comprehensive scheme for recyclers that considers economic, regulatory and market impacts.

“To ensure we implement the best fit-for-purpose national accreditation or certification scheme for Australian recyclers, ACOR and its project partner, Equilibrium, have developed a robust consultation process. This will include industry workshops to test the approach, process and intended outcomes of the scheme, as well as desktop and physical audits,” Toumbourou said.

“For the recycling and resource recovery industry, a national accreditation or certification scheme will support continual improvement in recovery rates and improve stakeholder and investor confidence in their facilities.

“ACOR is incredibly supportive and has been a long-term advocate of a scheme such as this. A robust and transparent national accreditation or certification program will give Australians confidence that the facilities that accept materials that are destined for recycling are operating at a high standard with respect to environmental and health and safety requirements as well as taking responsibility providing the material for reuse opportunities.”

Assistant Minister for Waste Reduction and Environmental Management Trevor Evans said these two projects are important foundations for building confidence, trust and best practice along the recycling supply chain.

“The NWRIC project will ensure that Australia’s recycled materials can be certified against a consistent set of national standards, and the ACOR initiative will provide a legitimacy tick acknowledging that recyclers are meeting these performance standards,” Assistant Minister Evans said.

“This enables those making and buying products containing Australian recycled materials to shop with confidence, knowing they are receiving high-quality recycled materials that are produced safely and environmentally responsibly.

“Together, these projects contribute to the Australian Government’s national roadmap to improve the harmonisation of kerbside collections and resource recovery across Australia.”

The NWRIC and ACOR projects are anticipated to be complete by October 2021.

Image credit: © Li

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