Major parties graded 'C' in recycling

Friday, 17 May, 2019

Major parties graded 'C' in recycling

Australia’s waste and recycling associations have released a 2019 Federal Election Report Card to rate the policies of the nation’s major political parties. Overall, a ‘C’ grade was issued to the Greens, the Australian Labor Party (ALP) and the Liberal National Party (LNP).

The report card was put together by major industry associations in the recycling, resource recovery and waste management sectors: the Australian Council of Recycling (ACOR), the Australian Industrial Ecology Network (AIEN), the Australian Organics Recycling Association (AORA) and the National Waste and Recycling Industry Council (NWRIC). Independent expert consultation was sought from Equilibrium.

The initiative used criterion-based analysis to evaluate the major parties’ policies, determining that each party has provided strong commitments to:

  • upgrading and supporting innovative recycling infrastructure;
  • establishing local markets for recycled content through government procurement;
  • ensuring producers step up and meet their responsibilities for the life cycle of products, and;
  • dealing with plastic pollution.

However, the report card also found fewer or minor commitments to the establishment of a circular economy and the placement of national policy and regulatory arrangements for consistent objective achievement across jurisdictions.

Party Aggregated grade Strengths Weaknesses
ALP C Recycling infrastructure funding; product stewardship funding; mandatory targets for recycled content procured; National Waste Commissioner; national container deposit scheme goal. Community engagement; circular economy.
NLP C Recycling infrastructure funding in particular; product stewardship funding; CRC funding; community engagement through a recycling app. National leadership; institutional implementation arrangements; procurement.
Greens C Recycling infrastructure funding; product stewardship funding and commitment to compulsory schemes; mandatory targets for recycled content procured; plastics research centre. Capacity to implement; community engagement.

According to Australian standards, a ‘C’ indicates evidence of learning demonstrates sound achievement at this year level. Credit: ©ACOR.

ACOR CEO Pete Shmigel said, “Recycling is the overall ‘winner’ as there is an unprecedented, tri-partisan and substantive response to the pressure being felt in municipal recycling from Asia and to growing community expectations. The ALP and the Coalition have come out neck and neck with good grades of C; the Greens also have a C, but less opportunity to realistically implement their vision.

“Taken as a whole, these policies recognise the landfill diversion, greenhouse gas reduction and jobs creation benefits of our $20 billion and 50,000 job industry. ACOR supports their across-the-board emphasis on recycling infrastructure development so we can make more recycled content products in Australia. On the other hand, ACOR believes that both majors, not only the ALP, should commit to binding targets for governments buying those recycled content products,” Shmigel continued.

NWRIC CEO Rose Read said, “The NWRIC is pleased with the commitments being made, in particular the ALP’s response to our call for a National Waste Commissioner. This role is key to driving the national waste policy, collaboration across all levels of government; ensuring targets are set and met, and more regulatory consistency between states. However, the NWRIC is concerned with the lack of commitment by the major parties to use the co-regulatory powers of the Product Stewardship Act for batteries and all electronics.”

Veronica Dullens, Executive Director at AIEN, said, “AIEN sees these policies as recognition of the potential of our sector to drive environmental and economic outcomes. What is lacking is more specific recognition of the principles of a circular economy and more specific actions to move away from the ‘take, make and throw’ paradigm.”

AORA National Executive Officer Diana De Hulsters said, “It’s great that the parties are focused and committed to improved resource recovery. Now, it’s time to get serious about implementation. To that end, and given that some 60% of a household rubbish bin is potentially compostable, we would like to see comprehensive recycling targets put in place in the National Waste Policy — not only those for packaging, which is a minority part of the overall waste stream.”

The full report card can be found here.

Image credit: ©

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