The Waste Management Association of Australia (WMAA), the peak body for the waste and resource recovery sector, supports and welcomes the increased spotlight being placed on the generation and management of waste in Australia.
The waste and resource recovery sector contributes at least $14.2bn to the Australian economy, and is integral to the lives of all Australians, underpinning economic growth and employment. Effective waste management and resource recovery is linked to our quality of life, and plays a significant role in environmental and public health, planning and infrastructure, resource and energy production, and emergency management.
Between 1996 and 2015 Australia's population rose by 28%. Yet waste generation increased by 170%. Whilst recycling is increasing to approximately 63% of all the waste generated, our efforts are not keeping up, with Australia still ranked as one of the highest waste producing nations.
"We all need to rethink what and how we consume, as well as what we produce. As a nation, we need to move away from the outdated linear approach of 'take, make, waste', towards circular thinking of recycle, recover and remanufacture – where waste is actually a resource", said WMAA Chief Executive Officer, Gayle Sloan.
"Ask yourself simply: do I really need to buy that? Can I bring my own reusable 'packaging' – a durable shopping bag, a water bottle or coffee cup? What happens when I no longer need it – can it be reused, repaired or recycled or will it end up in landfill?
"Our industry is at the forefront of investing in recovering resources from waste. This reduces our reliance on virgin materials, saves greenhouse gases and creates jobs in the reprocessing sector. So when you decide to 'buy recycled' you help close the loop. We are committed to the waste hierarchy and we see landfill as only being the last resort", said Ms Sloan.
"WMAA supports initiatives like the Australian Packaging Covenant that aims to change the culture of business to design more sustainable packaging. The Covenant has over 900 organisations as signatories and has contributed to an increase in post-consumer packaging recycling from 39% in 2003 to 61% in 2015.
"It is encouraging to see that waste generation and resource recovery is not only beginning to gain greater traction in the political domain, but also in the community.
"We are excited by the discussions taking place – not only at state and Federal Government levels regarding policy development, such as Container Deposit Schemes and Product Stewardship, but also in the media and at the grassroots level. Thanks to programs like ABC's upcoming War on Waste, Australians are becoming better educated about waste and recovery, and are more aware of the amount of waste they generate annually. Their attitudes and habits towards waste and recycling are changing", said Ms Sloan.
Visit War on Waste website.