Federal Election 2019: A go or a no for enviro?

9 May 2019

With only nine days to go till the 2019 Federal Election, the three major parties have proposed new schemes and spending in a bid to tug at the environmental heartstrings of voters. The Waste Management and Resource Recovery Association of Australia (WMRR) applauds our politicians for putting our essential industry on the national agenda.

“It is encouraging to see that the waste and resource recovery industry is on the radar of our leaders. Over the last 18 months, we’ve had two Meetings of Environment Ministers and for the first time in Australia’s Federal Election history, the two major parties have released waste and resource recovery policies,” WMRR CEO, Ms Gayle Sloan, said.

“WMRR has been advocating for a number of commitments that will go a long way in building the strong domestic remanufacturing industry that Australia needs, which means jobs and economic growth. So, the release of policies by the Australian Labor Party and the Liberal Party of Australia over the last two weeks is absolutely welcomed by industry.”

However, do these policies go far enough and will they deliver, as a start, the 1.2 million tonnes of remanufacturing capacity Australia needs and an emphasis on buying Australian recycled?

WMRR has put each party’s policy under a microscope, comparing them against each other and, importantly, against our five-point plan that the association has consistently advocated for.

“WMRR has prepared a scorecard that looks at the commitments made by the ALP and the LNP. It is evident that there are a few gaps that still need to be addressed and the level of understanding of what our sector, community, and environment need does vary widely,” Ms Sloan said.

“An area that really stood out is government leadership in sustainable procurement and market development. Here, it is clear that the ALP is miles ahead, with its $1 billion Advanced Manufacturing Future Fund, commitment to establish mandatory recycled content targets for all government departments in relation to the recycled content of materials bought directly or provided by private contractors, and commitment to ensure materials with recycled content are part of all major pieces of road infrastructure underwritten by the Australian Government.”

The LNP does dangle funding to find new solutions to plastic recycling and waste, and has committed to continuing to work with all levels of government on getting more recycled content into road construction. However, it appears the funding on offer is part of existing grants programs and WMRR is seeking a stronger commitment to tangible action on using recycled content in construction.

“It is evident that the ALP ‘gets it’ and has shown an awareness of the need to create markets and invest in remanufacturing, including a buy Australian recycled label. It is encouraging that the ALP has committed to timeframes and new funding. The LNP’s policy does require a bit more work because business as usual, we’ve seen, does not work and national leadership is needed,” Ms Sloan, said.

“Ultimately, we acknowledge the work all parties have done on their policies and look forward to working with the elected Government to build a strong and sustainable waste and resource recovery sector, including a remanufacturing industry.”

WMRR’s Federal Election scorecard can be downloaded here.