Green groups come together to call for a recycling action plan
Green groups and the waste and recycling industry have united to advocate for systemic change within Australia, calling for the implementation of an Australian Circular Economy & Recycling Action Plan with clear targets, enforceable policy and funding assistance.
The call was originally sounded earlier this month by the Waste Management Association of Australia (WMAA) and the Australian Council of Recycling (ACOR), who came together in the lead-up to April’s COAG meeting of Environment Ministers. With the meeting set to go ahead tomorrow (Friday), and following Ipswich City Council’s controversial decision to send ‘yellow bin’ recyclables to landfill, the Boomerang Alliance of 47 national, state and local groups has now voiced its own thoughts on the economic and environmental benefits of moving to a circular economy.
“The waste and resource recovery sector is a $15.5 billion industry that employs 50,000 people nationally delivering a cleaner environment and saving resources,” said Boomerang Alliance Director Jeff Angel. “We are all acutely aware that the industry must grow and not move backwards to the days of dumping and incineration. We call on Environment Ministers to work together to deliver what we know the public wants — more and better recycling and major domestic market development.”
“There can be nothing but a negative outcome if the states and federal governments do not come together at this point,” added WMAA CEO Gayle Sloan. “What we have seen in Ipswich cannot be repeated — the community will not accept it, the industry does not want it. We need government to come together on Friday and act — not talk.”
WMAA, ACOR and Boomerang all agree that a Circular Economy & Recycling Action Plan is needed to build on respective state governments’ shorter-term actions to date to maintain the community’s confidence in recycling services under the current unprecedented circumstances precipitated by China’s National Sword legislation — a policy to reduce the amount of contaminated materials entering the country.
“We need to stop seeing the items that go into the bins as just waste and see them for what they are — commodities,” said ACOR CEO Peter Shmigel. “Year on year we have seen a 2% drop in employment in the manufacturing industry. Seeing Australia transform from a linear economy (manufacture, use, dispose) to a circular economy (design, manufacture, use, recycle, re-use) will not only see us protect Australian jobs, it will see protection of our economy. We know we can create almost one job for every tonne recycled in Australia.”
The three groups have called for Ministers to agree to action supporting, at a minimum:
- A National Circular Economy Plan.
- A National Mandated Green Public Procurement.
- Mandated recycled content in packaging.
- New funding assistance.
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